I recently spent 3 weeks of my January in Florida. I know what you are thinking, “wow, that sounds pretty awesome in mid-winter!”. Well…any other time I would agree with you, but it wasn’t awesome, in fact it was a complete interruption in my life. And did I mention I left the husband at home but took my 18 month old with me?! Yeah…
In all seriousness I went to Florida to help my mom care for my grandmother. At the time of my departure I had round trip airfare booked. Eden and I would go to visit my grandmother who’d been in the hospital for a month, give my mom a little break from being at her bedside, then return to Maryland in a week. Or at least that was how I’d planned it so the “interruption” didn’t feel like so much of an “interruption” after all.
However, then we as a family, made the decision that it was time to put my grandmother in hospice care so that she could pass peacefully in her home. That was when I decided to stay in Florida for an undetermined amount of time. No matter how much of an interruption it became in my life.
Prior to me leaving I heard our Pastor preach a sermon about Mary at the time she found out she was pregnant with Jesus. During the sermon he made the point that similar to Mary’s situation, often life’s interruptions are God’s invitations. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, pledged to marry him, when miraculously, but very unexpectedly she became pregnant.This pregnancy was definitely an interruption, what some might even call an inconvenience at this moment in her life. But Mary answered to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant…May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
This message spoke volumes to me. Looking at the past year and a half, it made total sense that all those “inconveniences” were really God’s invitations. They were invitations for growth – to stretch me, make me new again – with a new heart and a new spirit. What I didn’t realize is that I’d be seeing this truth again firsthand over the next few weeks. And here’s how…
I’m typically the kind of person that wants to stay pretty close to home. I struggle with a little bit of postpartum anxiety and it usually makes me feel safer not to wander too far. I usually don’t like having my husband at a distance either, even for a week at a time, although I know being apart can be good for us. So when I booked my flight to Florida, I knew I needed a set return flight. Only to find out that God would equip me perfectly to be gone, away from my home, my church, my friends, and most of all, my husband for almost a month. God invited me out of my comfort zone so that I could see the power of prayer; so that I could see how He heals our anxieties; and so that I could be reminded how much He cares for me.
There were quite a few difficult conversations that needed to happen given the circumstances we were in. Like the kinds of conversations that someone like me, who HATES confrontation, would hide away from and avoid until they were over. Only I found out that the power of the Holy Spirit is so great that not only can it beat the lies that Satan has told me about how weak I am over the years, but it can also form each and every word that comes from my mouth so gently that the conversation occurs without fail. God invited me to trust Him and His timing because at exactly the perfect moment the Holy Spirit gave me every word to say with grace, absolutely no fear, and a whole lot of compassion.
When I left for Florida my husband and I were feeling overwhelmed and tired from the holidays and everything else going on with my family. And when you get in a space like that it’s easier not to connect; to just come home and eat dinner in front of the T.V. because it requires very little thinking. We didn’t even know that we were kind of in a slump…until I got to Florida. He maintained a great attitude for the duration of my trip. God equipped him to be attentive and supportive during every phone call; He gave him a temperament that was the perfect calm in some of my stormiest days; and the Lord made him totally available to drop everything and easily jump on a plane when I was pulling my hair out with our daughter. My husband showed up like a knight on a white horse that day, galloping out of the arrivals gate at the airport to whisk me away with his romantic charm. That time away from him was powerful and so were the short five days that he visited for. God invited me away from my Husband for almost a month so that I could see him in this new way- running to my rescue; so that I could experience how amazingly close you can feel to your spouse when you are putting every ounce of trust in the Lord first and foremost.
Those 3 weeks I spent caring for my grandmother were not easy, but they were filled with evidence of God’s provision. I will never forget that time. My mother-in-law reminded me a few weeks in, not to miss the miracle of dying and passing into the next world; that it’s a privilege to be there, walking with that person as they prepare for death. As hard as it is to agree with that statement, because it goes against all my human emotions, it is true. It’s clear the Lord had both me and my daughter there for so many reasons. He invited me to see the miracle in death; to play a supportive and spiritual role in my grandmother’s last days; to create even more memories with her; to show her and all the people that stepped foot in her home the love of God; and to learn more about the beautiful legacy she left so that I can keep it alive.
The Lord allowed me to see the full beauty of an interruption turned invitation in the midst of a heartbreaking situation. He invited me to become so close to Him; to rely completely on Him, so that I could see how strong He was making me.
Maybe it’s hard for you to see the power in my story but think back to a time when you felt your life was being totally interrupted. Maybe it was an inconvenience for you. What was the Lord inviting you to? Even though it may have been a unpleasant season to be in – what did He want you to see? What did He want you to hear? What did He want you to feel? Maybe it was an inconvenience… but what if it was an invitation to grow?
My beautiful grandmother, Iris, was 91 years old when she went home to be with Jesus.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7, NIV
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18, NIV
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:12-13, NIV