I hate to be interrupted. I bet you do too. You know…
…the phone rings at dinner;
…the door bell rings during the ball game;
…someone drops by your office unannounced;
…your youngest spills milk;
…your oldest has a fender bender;
…your spouse locks his or her keys in their car;
You could probably add a dozen more ways you’ve been interrupted in just the last week alone.
Do you ever wonder if God is a part of those interruptions?
Allow me to introduce you to a man named Philip. Philip was person that God kept interrupting to do Kingdom things. Those interruptions may not have made much sense to Philip, but they did to God. And because he was “interrupt-able,” God used him to make a mark in the world.
Philip, just like Stephen, was not an apostle. He was an average Joe in the church who had come to faith in Christ in the ground swell of response following Pentecost. You might say that Philip is believer 2.0. I think it would have been exciting to have participated in the awesome work of God in the days following Pentecost. But Philip, like many others, found his world interrupted by the persecution that flared following the martyrdom of Stephen.
What can Philip teach us about interruptions?
1. Life’s interruptions may be God’s opportunities. Acts 8:1-2 says that when persecution hit the church, the people scattered from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria. Who wouldn’t rather have stayed home? Or stayed together? What appeared on the surface to be a very bad thing (persecution), actually turned out to be a very good thing because the gospel became decentralized.
2. Spiritual leaders make the most out of interruptions. Acts 8:4 tells us that the believers who scattered proclaimed the gospel as they went. How Kingdom minded is that?! I like Luke’s word play at this point: they scattered the gospel as they scattered out of town!
3. God will interrupt us from good things for better things. The next report we get concerning Philip is that God interrupted his travel plans and told him to take an exit and focus on one particular town. There, Philip preached, cast out demons, and was used by God to perform some incredible miracles of healing. In the end, God gave Philip that city for Christ, and filled it with joy! It wasn’t that Philip had been doing bad things. God just had something better for him.
4. God’s interruptions don’t always make sense. The next scene provides us with the most recognizable story about Philip: his conversation with the Ethiopian eunuch. Think about this one. Philip is impacting multitudes, and God interrupted him to leave the multitude to go to the desert road to talk to one person. That’s right, one. That doesn’t make sense to us, does it? But it did to God. Legend has it that the eunuch became the first to take the gospel to the continent of Africa. We need to be very careful about how we assess God’s interruptions. His interruptions may not make sense to us. But like Philip, we need to be responsive nonetheless.
5. As long as you are open to God, he will continue to interrupt your life. I like how the chapter ends. Philip is snatched from the baptismal waters and parachute dropped into another region where he continues to share the gospel. His life is one big interruption after another, all the way to Cesarea.
How long has it been since you have sensed that God is playing a part in the interruptions of your life? Are you “interrupt-able?” Or do you wear a big DO NOT DISTURB sign across your heart? What would happen if you began to interpret the interruptions of life as the interruptions of God?
Let me encourage you this week to look for signs of the divine. Look for the providence of God to lead you from where you plan to be to where you need to be. It may surprise you what God has in store for you!