“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
One of the odd quirks about my personality is the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking. Because I thrive in a predictable environment, it tends to show up in special splendor when my routine gets knocked out of whack. “What? The power’s out? Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time on the couch with Pinterest.” “Uh-oh. A home project has taken over space in my brain. Cleaning the house at all will have to wait until the whole thing is finished.”
When chaos begins encroaching in piles around my heart and home, it’s a red flag: I’ve forgotten the wealth of the gospel and have returned to a scarcity mindset. I’m essentially holding myself captive in a prison of survival mode, bent on waiting out the storm of interruption.
The excuses to justify my self-imposed jail time come quickly, but they all carry the sweet stink of death. What if the Maker of the storm intended me to see His glory as we walked together through the tempest? How much I’d miss hunkered down in my cell of safety!
It’s in situations like this that I need a strategy: a plan for the days when my plans have been derailed. How can I push back against the looming disorder when normalcy has fled?
- First, I can pull out a curated list of verses and truths that remind me of solid footing, things like:
- “But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16 B)
- “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3)
- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
- “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11 B)
- “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
- My circumstances are not what empowers me to thrive; the Spirit of the living God inside me alone holds that power, and He will never abandon me.
- Just because this chaos surprises me doesn’t mean it surprises the Lord. He has a plan for me today, and I will walk humbly and confidently in that plan.
- Survival mode has no place in my life; I’m more than a conqueror because of Jesus’ finished work on my behalf. I can work and rest from a place of freedom today.
- I serve no Master but Christ, and He’s up to something here.
- Because I am well-loved, I can let go of the need to do today perfectly. God is more concerned about the state of my heart right now than the state of my goals.
- Once I’ve girded myself with these and other gospel lyrics, I need to empty myself by confessing and releasing. Typical starting points include:
- Control (even the illusion of it)
- Expectations (both from inside and outside)
- Orphan thinking/scarcity mindsets
- The need to understand
- Self-saving efforts
- Next, I can fill up that newly-emptied space with comforting characteristics of God. These might include:
- He is faithful.
- He is capable.
- He is wise.
- He is with me.
- He is kind.
- He is generous.
- He is patient.
- He is my protector.
- He is still in control.
- He is always good.
- Finally, with all of this heart work established, I can embrace a sense of adventure. As I move forward into the day at His pace rather than mine, staying sensitive to whispered invitations to creatively be His hands and feet for such a time as this, joy, freedom, faith, and grace replace whatever was on my to-do list. Funny how they’re always so much better than what I had originally planned to accomplish.
Times of upheaval aren’t a hindrance to the Lord’s desire to produce good fruit in me; they’re opportunities to further it. They help usher me to the end of my dang self so that God can roll up His sleeves and have unencumbered room to work.
While I was wired to thrive in predictable environments, I was never meant to become enslaved to them. If I’m relying more on a schedule and preferences for my well-being than on the Lord, He sees an inmate in need of rescue. He’s still the One who delights in proclaiming liberty to the captives and opening the prison to those who are bound. It’s time I came out of hiding and learned to trust my Daddy when He interrupts me.