Could I come over this afternoon to talk with you?
The mid-morning text from a grieving younger woman in my church surprised me. I looked up from my phone to survey my kitchen. Crumbs and dishes from lunch still cluttered the table. My laptop sat open on the counter, a constant ping reminding me of unanswered work emails. One child begged for a snack while another asked to go outside.
Despite the chaotic surroundings, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting, so I replied. Sure! Can you come when the kids have their rest time?
I knew ministering to this young woman was more important than the tasks I had planned for that afternoon. Being with her in her grief mattered more than a sparkling kitchen, an empty inbox, or even time to rest myself. Still, I was frustrated that my plans for my day were interrupted. How could I accomplish anything in life with all these disruptions?
When Our Plans Get Interrupted
My day never seems to go quite as I planned in my color-coded calendar. How I react to life’s inevitable interruptions often exposes the idols in my heart. I greet my children with a harsh word because I want to be in control of my morning. I ignore the call from my friend because I don’t want to sacrifice my own comfort for her needs. I’m anxious when my work day is cut short, keeping me from meeting work deadlines and causing me to lose progress toward my goals. Ultimately, all these sinful responses reveal my doubt of God's sovereignty. I falsely believe I control my day and my future.
The psalmist reminds us that our days are in God’s hands. “All my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began” (Ps. 139:16, CSB). C.S. Lewis wrote, “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.”1 When God interrupts my plans, he’s reminding me that it’s not my own kingdom I’m building, but his—and he has the master plan. Each interruption is not a distraction from God’s plan but an opportunity for God to redirect my own.
When Jesus Was Interrupted
People frequently interrupted Jesus’ ministry. The paralytic’s friends broke into Jesus’s teaching with a hole in the roof (Luke 5:17–26). The woman with a blood disorder touched Jesus’ cloak and halted his journey to heal Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41–48). Peter often interjected ill-timed or ignorant comments when Jesus tried to explain hard concepts to his disciples (Matt. 17:1–8). The crowd chased after Jesus when he withdrew to grieve the death of his beloved cousin and prophetic voice, John the Baptist (Matt. 14:1–13).
Yet Jesus didn’t grow weary of interruptions. He didn’t send the paralytic or the unclean woman away (as the religious leaders would have done). Instead, he healed them and, more importantly, forgave them of their sins. Jesus corrected Peter’s erroneous speech, but he also allowed Peter to see him in his divine glory. When Jesus was emotionally and physically exhausted, he looked on the needy crowd with compassion (Matt. 14:14).
Jesus wasn’t frustrated when people cut his sermons short, intruded into his prayer time, or delayed much-needed rest. He knew these interruptions weren’t a distraction from his purpose. Rather, these were the very people God the Father sent him to serve.
When Jesus came to the end of his earthly ministry, he could confidently pray, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). Jesus had accomplished all the work the Father had sent him to do. Not despite those interruptions but through those interruptions.
Learn to Rejoice When You’re Interrupted
When we’re too focused on building our own limited kingdoms, we often miss God’s invitation to join him in building his eternal kingdom. But when we acknowledge God’s sovereignty over each moment, we can rejoice in the good work God has prepared for us. Even when it wasn’t part of our original plans.
Of course, there will be times we will need to say no to a ministry opportunity, place boundaries around our rest, or reduce our obligations for a season. We must rely on the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to know what God would have us do in each circumstance. Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” We can be good stewards of the time God has given us. And we can also trust God to put the people and opportunities in our path that will lead to his kingdom building.
When a woman I’m discipling needs to spend an hour crying on the couch, I can start the tea kettle and plan to order takeout for dinner. When a co-worker shares about her difficult circumstances, I can close my laptop and pray with her. And when my children ask me a hard question while I’m doing laundry, I can let the towels sit in the washer and make the most of a discipleship moment. These aren’t just interruptions—they are opportunities to serve in God’s kingdom.
We always have a choice when life is interrupted. We can selfishly push forward with our own plans, or we can show compassion to the person God put in our path. When we see each interruption as an opportunity to join in God’s kingdom work, we will find we always have enough time to accomplish what he has called us to do.
Meet the Author
Bethany Broderick lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and three young children. A recovering perfectionist, she writes about resting in God’s grace in the everyday moments of life. She is a contributing writer for Momma Theologians, and her work has been featured on The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, Christian Parenting, and more. You can connect with her on her blog (bethanybroderick.com) and on Instagram (@bethanygbroderick).