On the last weekend of September, life as I was planning it was interrupted. The rush of the prior week was muted. I drove five hours north of my home in Santa Barbara. I stopped. I breathed. I raised my gaze as I looked up to the blue skies and majestic Redwoods.
I was rerouted from my initial plans for the weekend. I opened my heart to hear the testimonies of women ignited by the Word of God. This was not an easy trip to make, I’ll admit. I was reluctant to go.
Saturday, September 29th, marked my daughter’s ninth birthday and this mama wanted to be with her girl. I didn’t want to miss her special day! I wanted to be physically present with her. Even though I had been feeling emotionally drained and spiritually weary, I agonized over the decision of whether to stay home or to make the journey.
God interrupted my internal tug-of-war and a voice within me whispered, go. Welcoming an interruption, or a change-in-plans is not something I have been, in the past, particularly good at. I like structure. I’m a linear thinker. The thought of stepping outside of what I perceived as my “structured” plans for my girl’s birthday celebration felt uncomfortable for me. I was anxious and a little bit perturbed that God was putting this interference before me.
Isn’t there another women’s retreat, on a better day? Can’t I go another time? God, do you hear me?
His reply: go.
My agitation was growing. I forced myself to explore what was irritating me. I stayed with that feeling. Sharon Garlough Brown puts it this way, “Learn to linger with what provokes you.” I did. I lingered. I probed the emotions brewing inside of me.
It became clear that the feeling of losing control was provoking me. I could sense God moving me in a direction that didn’t feel right in my head: go to a women’s retreat on the same weekend as my daughter’s birthday. A retreat that I, no doubt, needed. Only, it was one that I didn’t think I could—or should—partake in. Why would God do that? Why would He place before me a decision that felt like a no-win situation? Guilty if I stay, guilty if I leave.
Still, God said, go.
And, I did.
With my daughter’s full support, I left for the weekend. She had birthday plans with friends on Saturday and my husband would oversee those plans. I would return on Sunday afternoon and we’d celebrate as a family.
I set off on an adventure with God. What I was met with, in the peace and quiet of the redwood forests in Northern California, was a new and important consideration. A question that speaker Christine Ingebretson posed during my time at the retreat: can God’s interruptions be invitations to grow deeper into His purpose for our lives?
Can our daily delays, pauses, and disruptions actually be an invite from God to receive Him more fully? To feel Him moving more deeply within us at that moment? So often we are rushed in our lives: moving and striving to make our plans, advance those plans, and see those plans through to the end. No matter what. Yet, it’s difficult to hear God when we’re in a hurry and striving to do life our way.
I was striving to carry out the celebration of my daughter’s birthday on my terms, and not on God’s terms. I didn’t mean any harm by this, yet, I didn’t trust that God cared for my daughter’s birthday just as much as me. I didn’t recognize, at the time, that this interruption was an invitation for me to surrender: to let my husband guide my daughter’s birthday, to allow my daughter sweet one-on-one time with her daddy, and to give me what I was hungry for—unhurried and quiet moments with God.
Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. It’s impossible to love well when we’re hurrying through our days. It’s impossible to feel God when we are numbed by busyness. How many times do we say no while God is saying go?
Go read a book with your child. Go take a walk with a friend. Go say I love you to that special someone. Go turn off that laptop. Go breathe. Go close your eyes and pray. Go listen to God. Go on that journey and trust. Go.
Don’t miss the essential moments of your life because you are hurrying, planning, unwilling to be present and to accept God’s invitations. Be willing to be rerouted by God’s interruptions, big or small. Be willing to let go of life-as-planned so that you might find the life that is waiting for you.
I had plans for my daughter’s birthday.
God interrupted those plans.
He called me to go.
If God calls you He will equip you.
My daughter’s birthday was celebrated joyfully on two days!
No guilt. No worry. No agitation.
I came back from my women’s retreat with a renewed spirit and it flows and extends itself into my family. They feel it. I’m renewed emotionally and spiritually. I’m more present now than I was when I left on that retreat. What a gift! Likely, the best birthday gift that my daughter could ever receive: witnessing her mama secure and confident in the love of her creator.
What interruption today will you receive as an invitation from God?