In the late 90s two famous actresses, Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder, starred in Girl, Interrupted, a film about a young girl who ends of in a mental institution and befriends a band of other troubled residents. The question central to the movie’s plot was whether this girl, Susanna, would “drop anchor” at the institution or pull it together and move forward with her life.
Isn’t that how it happens for us? Life, as we have imagined it and planned it, gets interrupted. We may not end up in a mental institution, but sometimes we end up way off track from where we would like to be. Out of school. Working a minimum wage job. Unemployed. Back at home with our parents. In an apartment that rivals a college dormitory. Divorced. Friendless. Our lives, interrupted.
Interruptions. At the very least they annoy and frustrate. Sometimes they completely derail us to the point that we don’t even recognize ourselves. We are angry or fearful or argumentative. Our minds are forever foggy and we struggle to think coherent thoughts or make decisions. We are depressed and lethargic just wanting to sleep. We are always teary-eyed, on the verge of a full-blown, unraveling breakdown.
But interruptions can be a good thing. Most often it is in hindsight that we think this – like when we didn’t marry that love of our lives or didn’t take that job or didn’t move into that house. After the fact we realize that it was a good thing that we were interrupted, that our interruption actually proved to be an opportunity, a blessing even. Why must it always be “after the fact” that we come to this realization? Why can we not welcome an interruption?
Consider the Wise Men, Mary and Joseph in the second chapter of Matthew. The Wise Men had crafted a plan based on their observation of a star. King Herod summoned them and gave them clear directions to return to him with news of the Christ child. Their plan was interrupted because the Scriptures tell us in Matthew 2:12b that they departed another way. In this same chapter we learn that Mary and Joseph’s lives were likewise interrupted. Shortly after Mary had given birth Joseph was warned in a dream to take mother and child and go to Egypt.
Interruptions. Surely. But how did the Wise Men, Mary and Joseph respond? Scripture says of the Wise Men that they “departed to their own country by another way.” (ESV) In response to the angel’s directive for Joseph to “rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt,” Joseph did just that. Verse 14 says, “And he rose and took the child and mother by night and departed to Egypt.” (ESV)
These weren’t really interruptions you argue; these were divine interventions that saved their lives. I won’t argue with you on that, but I will argue that your “interruptions” might well be divine interventions, too. But if we are not readily obedient like the Wise Men and Joseph and Mary, what might we be missing? Life? Fully?