Divine Interruptions

Divine InterruptionsI was supposed to be preparing dinner; after all, we needed to get to Bible study in 90 minutes. But, I got distracted. Ahem…Facebook was to blame, in part. There, in my news feed, was a much-desired report:  A child on my prayer list had experienced a breakthrough in his health. Then, a startling post surfaced; an acquaintance of mine announced her husband had died several hours prior. 

While still pondering my online discoveries, I was interrupted by loud knocks.  (Why some people avoid using the doorbell baffles me. Whew!)  Before long, my husband and I found ourselves sharing God’s Word with the misguided evangelist on the other side of our front door. Though the woman attempted to share her faith with us, we imparted truth to her, instead.

Things began to settle in the Bopape household. I sighed and used the remaining minutes to pull together a home-cooked meal. I realized that although my distractions seemed to inconvenience me, they had also incited me to praise the Lord for a young boy’s improved health, pray for others’ comfort, and share God’s Word with a stranger.  Plus, my family ate a balanced meal and made it to Bible study right on time. God worked it all out.

During busy times, it’s easy to allow our schedules to dictate how we respond to others. Perhaps we make empty promises and say, “I’ll be praying for you.” All the while, we continue to chase the next item on our to-do list.  And, when a young child approaches us with her “major” concern—a broken toy, a paper cut, or a request for feedback on a book report—do we offer a pat answer because we have “more serious” issues?

Simply put, our schedules have fallen prey to rigidity. Will we make an attempt to be more cognizant of others’ needs and exhibit more compassion—even in our busyness? When we do, we might notice that some of our distractions are divinely orchestrated. Who knows, the right interruptions could leave you praising, praying, or sharing God with others…just like me. As the Spirit leads, let’s be on the lookout for opportunities to better handle our distractions this week, and then, trust God to work everything out.

Church Folks: Slow It Down

Picture of snail: Slow our pace to speed up progress!Recently, I decided to make more time for my calling. (See my post: A Life That’s to Die For?) I was moving at a fast pace, but not getting anywhere. In an effort to slow things down—and relieve my frustrations—I quit several activities. Prayerfully, I even quit areas of ministry that were not directly related to my calling.

However, this decision didn’t come without questions from others. “Why quit this ministry,” a couple of women suggested. “We really don’t do much,” they chuckled. “C’mon, what’s the real reason you’re letting this go,” they asked, fishing for something more.

Others showed genuine concern for my well-being and offered help for whatever hardship I must have been secretly experiencing. After all, I was putting a prestigious title to rest indefinitely. I would no longer wear a gold name badge. I’d also lose my priority seating during Sunday service.

However, I’ve learned that when God gives direction, it’s best to act immediately. My obedience to God simply doesn’t make sense to many others. It doesn’t have to. Because of my recent, radical changes—and my artsy writer’s personality—many women just don’t “get” me. That’s OK. Really. But I digress…. The point is: Sometimes, we must slow our pace to speed up progress. We have to put ourselves in a position to be fruitful…not just busy.

Nowadays, folks are simply doing too much. Many churches fellowship well, but we lose sight of ministry. Church book clubs are being held in taverns while we turn down requests to conduct Bible study at domestic violence shelters. Ministries’ coffers are being used to provide spreads for meetings while people in the community are going hungry. Sadly, during church-wide celebrations of godly men, we seem to include God as an afterthought. My hope is that believers abroad will agree that although we can have fun while serving God, we must have balance; that includes ministering to others, not just having church socials that edify ourselves.

I have a challenge for us all: Slow. It. Down. Let’s scale down our initiatives to better commune with God and do the work He’s prescribed. In the process, we’ll find personal fulfillment. We’ll also build an environment of peace and find that we nurture our families (and ourselves) better when we do. Let’s start this process by reflecting on the following questions. Then, let’s make changes as the Spirit leads.

Reflection Points

  • Think about the ministries in which you’re involved. Why are you in them?
  • How do your service efforts relate to your calling?
  • Are you so dependent on a ministry title that you can’t walk away from it to serve God wholeheartedly in another capacity—your true calling?
  • Do your activities interfere with your need to minister to your immediate family?
  • Do you really believe a specific ministry can’t run without you? (If so, perhaps its structure should be revisited.)
  • Are you more apt to attend a church outing or fellowship than to attend a revival, prayer meeting, or Bible study?
  • What is God calling you to quit? Begin? Improve?

As I wrap up this post, I’d like you to consider visiting Dianna Hobbs’s blog, Your Daily Cup of Inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised to find that today, she reiterates the importance of believing and trusting God, regardless of others’ responses. Click here to read her post.

A Life That’s to Die For?

Too busy for God?As an entrepreneur, wife, and mother, I knew my calendar would be full. I taught Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Children’s Church. I shuttled my two youngest children to appointments and my oldest child to work. Whether preparing home-cooked meals or helping with homework, I served with a smile. I could often be found storytelling in my community or teaching workshops. Plus, there were contracts to sign and project deadlines to meet. When freelancers wanted to kick-start their careers, they turned to me with their writing and publishing questions.

I was happy to do all these things—and more. After all, I had the strength and the means to do them. So why was I so frustrated? Simply put, I was doing everything for everyone. However, I did nothing for myself. I’d even neglected my God-given talents. Yikes! Once I realized the cause of my angst, I made phone calls, sent hand-written letters, wrote e-mail messages, and then, voila! Everything began to change. Quitting never felt better.

Oh, I still serve at my church and cook meals for my family. But I’ve pared down my service to only include those things that align with my God-given purpose and that complement my season of life. I’m entering into God’s rest; life is simpler now. I’m doing what God has designed me to do—encourage, inspire, and teach others through my writing. Amazingly, contracts that I didn’t pursue have come my way. I’ve made room in my schedule to accommodate the use of my gifts. In return, my gifts are making room for me and are bringing me into the presence of some great people in the Christian publishing industry. (See Proverbs 18:16.)

Sisters, perhaps you’re tired and irritable like I was. Perhaps you’ve erroneously found your value in the check marks on your to-do list, the number of folks you can help in one day, the abundance of church ministries in which you serve, or the number of people who depend on you for a job well-done. Before long, you, too, may realize that your self-imposed service to others has left you too empty to be of much use to God.

Instead of creating a life that’s literally to die for, let’s focus on creating a life that’s actually worth living—one that’s dedicated to God and His purposes. There, we’ll find rest.

How have you simplified your life so that you can be of greater use to God? (If you’re not yet ready to answer this question, consider completing Cynthia Heald’s Bible study, Becoming a Woman of Simplicity).