“But what if our interruptions are in fact our opportunities, if they are challenges to an inner response by which growth takes place and through which we come to the fullness of being? What if the events of our history are molding us as a sculptor molds his clay, and if it is only in careful obedience to these molding hands that we can discover our real vocation and become mature people? . . . What if our history does not prove to be a blind impersonal sequence of events over which we have no control, but rather reveals to us a guiding hand pointing to a personal encounter in which all our hopes and aspirations will reach their fulfillment?”
I hate being interrupted. I am a deep thinker. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I think about deep things, just that I have a tendency to enter my own little world sometimes. I remember working one of my jobs that I had before going back to school to become a pastor where I was working on figuring out the programming logic I needed to create a data report that would include the information that was requested from another department. It was a difficult assignment and I became very focused on what I was doing – so focused, in fact, that I eventually became aware that my fellow workers were attempting to get my attention. They had been trying for several minutes but I was so deep in thought that I had closed myself off to the rest of the world. Eventually I looked up and found my coworkers all looking at me and claiming they had been trying to get my attention for nearly 15 minutes. I’m not sure if that’s an exaggeration or not but I do know it took longer than normal. There was nothing wrong, I was just very deep in thought. The problem with this tendency is that sometimes I get jarred out of my thoughts by someone trying to get my attention and, sometimes, I’m none too happy about being jarred in such a way. Sometimes I get interrupted so much that it seems I will never get done with the project I am working on and that frustrates me. So, yes, I hate being interrupted and I’m afraid I’ve chewed a few people out for doing that deed.
I hate that, though. It’s not their fault and I should be filled with more grace about interruptions. I know this and God is, I think, changing that in me. Nouwen has a different take on interruptions. What if interruptions are opportunities? Here I’ve been thinking that the interruptions are keeping me from fulfilling my opportunities to get some work done when Nouwen suggests maybe the interruptions are more important. I hate it when others are right about things I don’t want to agree with them on.
So what would happen if my thinking was altered and, for me, those annoying interruptions were viewed as opportunities instead? Could it be that by opening myself up to these new opportunities I would be opening myself up to the guiding hand of God?
Just when I think I’m getting somewhere with all this Nouwen comes out and says something a little harder to understand. He says, “Then our life would indeed be a different life because then fate becomes opportunity, wounds a warning and paralysis an invitation to search for deeper sources of vitality. . . . Then we can cast off the temptation of despair and speak about the fertile tree while witnessing the dying of the seed.”
That last line gets me. Nouwen is saying that we can allow God to mold and sculpt us through His guiding hand – that guiding hand which works through the interruptions in life more than the mundane times when I think the most is being accomplished. And, in allowing God to mold me, I will find He is indeed preparing me to handle even the hardest questions and events of life from a solitude of heart that understands realities far deeper than I could ever reach on my own. It is there that I can “speak about the fertile tree while witnessing the dying of the seed.” It is there that I can see how God brings forth new life even when all I see is death.
God’s wisdom is far greater than my own. Oh Lord, grant me your wisdom in good times and bad times. Mold me. Sculpt me into the person you want me to be. Interrupt me whenever I need to be interrupted.