4th May - Thought For the Day - Interrupted By God
Words by Bev Jones
Interrupted by God
Yesterday I attended four church services – all quite different, apart from the fact that they were reliant upon technology, and all offering much to think about and ponder upon. Yet one of the of the things that I’ve realised over the last few days is that there is so much material to read, so many podcasts to listen to and so many (virtual) church services to go to, that I’m at risk of not processing anything properly.
It’s almost like a spiritual ‘pick and mix’ and if I’m not careful, I’ll come out of lockdown very well read but not much further on in my spiritual life because I’ve not given myself time to just listen; to ponder and to hear that still small voice. To really hear what God is wanting to teach me in these times.
Photo by Melanie Pongratz via Unsplash
And so having listened to a podcast on Nehemiah and the re- building of Jerusalem’s walls, I decided that whatever else I read, listen to and watch, I will read through the book of Nehemiah and follow the story, asking God to speak to me through it and just take it from there. I urge you to do the same – Not particularly Nehemiah, but read some part of the Bible more intently and intentionally, and then see if the things that God is pointing out to you, are repeated with other things that you hear, read and watch.
This week then, my thoughts will be led by whatever God is saying to me through the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah at the time of the account was living around 800 miles away from Jerusalem in Persia. He had an important Government job, when he heard reports that the wall surrounding the holy city was still in ruins and had not been re-built. In many ways, this was nothing to do with Nehemiah – he had another, very comfortable life, and yet God interrupts that, and Nehemiah stops what he’s doing, and weeps. Verse four tells us that he fasted and prayed for days, asking God how he should respond, and when the answer came, he realised that God was prompting him to give up his present life, go to Jerusalem and re- build the walls.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez Via Unsplash
Sometimes God interrupts where we are and what we’re doing because there’s something more pressing that we should be doing; something else that God wants us to step into, and yet so often, we make it much more complicated than it needs to be. Sometimes we need to have so much confirmation before we even allow ourselves to be interrupted; we look for multiple assurances before we’ll take an initial step, when perhaps what God is longing for us to do is to acknowledge the ‘interruption’ as Nehemiah did, and initially pray. And then be willing to let go of the things that maybe are not for this next season.
We have all been hugely interrupted at the moment – indeed the whole world has been interrupted in a totally unexpected and unprecedented way, so what better time than now, to acknowledge the interruption, bringing before God, who we are and what we have. And then see what our next moves should be. Perhaps this simple prayer by Henri Nouwen in The Only Necessary Thing, will help:
Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me.
- Henri J.M. Nouwen 2008 The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life Independent Publishers Group