How do you feel about interruptions? Most of us don’t like them. We have a plan, and we don’t want anything to get in the way. We even have a plan on how to carry out God’s will for our lives. Planning is important, and it keeps us on track. God wants us to be efficient in carrying out the work that he has for us to do. But just as planning is a God thing sometimes so are interruptions.
There is an interesting story in Acts 16 about interruptions. To summarize the story, Paul and Silas were on a missionary journey to Philippi. They were spreading the Gospel just as planned when they met a woman named Lydia. Acts says that Lydia and her household became believers and she invited Paul and Silas to stay at her house.
Things were going well for these two missionaries. They were rejoicing that they were having success in seeing people come to the Lord and after they rested at Lydia’s house they were on the way to the place of prayer. But then… Here comes the interruption. Have you had some “but then” interruptions when you thought things were going as planned? Well, Paul and Silas “but then” was a doozie. The Scripture says that a possessed slave girl began to follow this missionary team taunting them.
The things that the woman was saying about Paul and Silas were true. She was crying out saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God who proclaims to us the way of salvation.” Paul tried to ignore her, but it said she followed them for several days. Paul finally had enough and commanded the evil spirit to come out of her.
The Bible also says this girl was a fortune teller and that she was making a lot of money for her masters. When they saw Paul cast this evil spirit out of her and they knew that they could no longer make money from her. They arrested Paul and Silas, took them before the authorities, beat them, chained them and threw them into prison. This was quite an interruption and not how Paul and Silas thought their day was going to go when they were on their way to the place of prayer.
As they sat in prison, the Bible says that at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing and suddenly there was another interruption. God sent an earthquake, and the prison doors were opened, and the chains fell off them. The prison guard woke up, and they knew if the prisoners had escaped that he would be punished, so he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul stopped him and told him that they were still there. The jailer was so surprised that they would stay that he asked them how to be saved. Paul and Silas told him to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” The jailer took them home with him cleaned their wounds, fed them and he and his household were saved that night.
Just as Paul and Silas discovered, we must realize that interruptions even interruptions from doing our planned lives of service can lead to greater prayers being answered and bring greater glory to God. If Paul and Silas had not had an interruption on their way to the place of prayer the jailer and his family might never have come to know the Lord. Bringing people to the Lord was why they were on this journey in the first place and probably what they would have prayed for if they had reached their place of prayer. But God decided to accomplish their goals another way.
Let’s make sure that we are not so focused on our plan that we miss the God interruptions that he brings into our lives for his greater purpose. They might just be there to give us what we have been praying for all along, a means of serving him more.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) (NIV)