Swirling a dish towel around one of the only skillets we haven’t packed yet, I ask my daughter sitting at the bar across from me in the kitchen, “Do you want to go with us to deliver your car tomorrow or would you rather not?”
Looking away, then down at her lap, she says, “I don’t know,” and squirms uncomfortably.
“You don’t have to go with us,” H assures from his seat in the living room; “Mom and I can do it if you don’t want to.”
“It’s just that I’m afraid of meeting her. What if the car I love is going to someone I don’t like,” she admits. Her lips push up at the corners once she hears the honesty spewed from her mouth, then her hesitancy erupts into giggling.
I understand more than she realizes.
The next morning, H and I wake up to the alarm clock. It’s Saturday. Alarm clocks are usually turned off.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” he says, still groggy.
I hazily remember turning over in the middle of the night startled by the glow from his computer screen.
“But I did find neighboring architectural plans for our potential new house in London through a search, if you want to get a rough idea of the layout.”
Packing nearly every day for over a month, we’re in a waiting period about a job and residence. Months ago we surrendered position, perception, reputation and control when He asked us to move to England.
“I don’t want to see it.” I tell him. And the corners of his smile turn downward. “I can’t hope for something that might not happen. The disappointment might kill me.”
I turn the water on in the shower. We have two hours to deliver my daughter’s car to a stranger.
“God may be leading you away without a clear final destination yet. As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before so you can appropriately grasp what will be? I read it from Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted while seated in the passenger’s seat. Ponder those words while looking out the car window as the city blurs past; glimpse my daughter behind the wheel of her car in the rear view mirror.
I have willingly thrown piles of memories in the garbage over the past few months. But this extended waiting in heaven’s silence for the fulfillment of hope is beginning to feel like Jesus is laughing. And then I read the next paragraph.
“Could it be that you might accidentally squash the lovely vision if you obtain it too soon? There is a horrid beauty in following God slightly blind. The victory later is sweeter, the prize more valuable than breath.”
Keeping my eyes on the destination and not the circumstances, this is where I struggle continually.
I’m riding along for the story, not a transaction.
We know the buyer is a college sophomore from New Hampshire. Her mom responded to the ad we placed in the Auto Trader in South Carolina, calling us while in Canada during our family vacation. “And could you have the leak in the power steering checked out before we buy it?”her only question and requirement.
An hour later, we huddle in front of a dorm building surrounded by boxes and college students.
H asks a bikini clad girl waltzing down the staircase if she is our buyer. “Yeah,” she says under her sunglasses, “Do you have the car for me?”
That is the extent of our interaction. No thank you so much for bringing it to me or story of redemption. She doesn’t crawl inside the car or start the engine. Instead, she runs up the stairs holding two keys and registration like they are foreign objects, like she has something better to do.
I’m not sure if she knows that leak fix was equal to the car value. Or that the electronic key went mysteriously missing so we had to order a new one. That God wrecked our well laid plans for financial security and replaced disappointment with a desire to be a blessing when we prayed earnestly about the decision.
She doesn’t know we collected our last pay check this week.
We are at the complete mercy of His kindness.
“I hate that place and love it – depends on the day. There is a freedom in not being in control, when something utterly imagined by God is coming for you. It’s exciting and kind of awful,” writes Jen.
Awful was winning the battle in my heart but that long drive with Interrupted changed my perspective.
With Murielle now in the back seat, we pull away in silence, each of us processing the anticlimactic ending of letting go of another something beloved. And I realize, we aren’t responsible for the outcomes of our yeses, only obedience to Jesus, the One who creates happy endings.
And so we wait and trust a little bit longer.
“Turning lose is part of preferring the bottom; it’s an unexpected front door to peace. “
When I was one of the first 250 bloggers who responded yes to helping Jen Hatmaker promote the reprint and expanded version of Interrupted, I had no idea how timely her story would be, how much it would parallel my current situation. When Jesus wrecks our comfortable Christianity, having sojourners, not fixers, is vital to wrestling through those hard places. Jen’s words are an empathetic friend, a shoulder of hope in the darkness of transition. Interrupted is an encouraging message to keep trusting, even when the circumstances seem crazy and unconventional.
Today, I’m giving away one copy of the revised and expanded Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity to one person who leaves a comment in response to one of the following questions. Psst . . . . Jen is doing an online study with it this fall.
What would you struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use your life to make a difference in the world? How is God showing you He loves you recently? For me, on Saturday, it was the timely words of Jen’s book.
Linking with Laura Boggess, Kelli Woodford, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Jen Hatmaker today for a blog tour link-up.
**Christy Willard is the big winner of Interrupted. Congrats Christy!
Shelly, I needed these words tonight more than you know. What would I struggle to give up?–my comfort, both physical and emotional…but the reality is, this interruption has already begun, I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable, in what appear to be all of the *right* ways. Praying with you, my friend. Love you.
God has showed me how much He loves me by opening my eyes to show me beauty all around me that I wasn’t even noticing and I can almost hear Him saying, “Do you see it? I made it just for you so that you will know you are not alone and that I am with you and love you so much! I did this for you!”
Shelly, Brave-Heart…I hear you and I feel glad to be a small part of this journey with you and God because I know it’s going to be amazing……………after the H A R D !! Hang on tight to the author of your life knowing you are supported in prayer and by Almighty God Himself. …after all, it is His reputation that’s on the line here ………..
Love you Mary!! Thank you, always.
This is lovely, Shelly. Painfully so. I struggle to give up my children’s safety.
Love seeing you here in the comments my lovely friend. Thanks for reading.
Shelly hold on friend. He is still In control. I’m praying for you. I am challenged daily to trust God with my children.
I’m holding fast Diane, thanks for being one of my cheerleaders.
I have already been through so much and lost my husband two years ago while our marriage was a mess, never to be fully restored. In that loss I have learned to cherish so much and to lean into God no matter what situation I may face. I’ve been struggling financially and currently find myself two months behind in rent. The hardest thing for me to lose at this point would be either of my beautiful daughters. God is showing Himself in my life even in all this. I just got hired at two jobs and will have benefits for the first time. I feel that I have been living in that place of interruption for quite some time and am just beginning to see a light down a new path. I’m excited to see what He may have in store!
I’m so sorry for what you’ve endured Kristy but I hear redemption in your words and I’m encouraged. Thank you so much for sharing your heart here and I pray the new jobs will be the first in a domino of blessings.
I got a bit tearful and angry about that ungrateful girl and the bad financial transaction re the car. I’ve done things like that!
I would struggle to give up my house, my garden,financial security, my peace and quiet, my quiet schedule, free time. Oh, lots of things.
I have been experiencing God’s love in the quiet of my garden, the sense that he loves me just as I am, though I have failed in my things I set out to do.
Her mother made up for it Anita, she was very appreciative and kind hearted. But it did make me think about my own kids, I would be sad if they responded to someone like that.
“having sojourners, not fixers, is vital” – how true that is Shelly, I am thankful that God loves us enough to give us just that, sometimes we don’t realise we need them until the end but boy, are we thankful we have had them on the journey with us. Praying for you in the waiting Shelly. I’d struggle to give up all that you have been asked to and a whole lot more besides. Thankfully through the hard places God is giving me a sense of his wonderful peace, enough to get through each day. I am grateful.
So lovely to hear from you Emma. I hope we’ll see each other a lot more in the coming months. I’m thankful for your friendship and for your prayers, truly.
What would I struggle to give up? Everything!! Life seems to be a never ending struggle these days. There is a deep sense of calling in my life but I don’t see the end results. So I feel like I run down rabbit trails looking for direction, not “feeling” like I’m getting any nearer to the end. Definitely going to read this book.
Oh, I know that place of deep calling but not able to put words or skin on it Leslie. Keep praying and waiting and when it comes, you’ll know it is providence. The waiting is the most difficult part, yes?
Right now I am struggling with a future event, knowing my son.in.law, daughter and grand baby want to move away for seminary. We have often lived in different cities, even different continents. This season of all living within ten minutes of each other has been a delight.
Shelly, thanks for writing this. It is so hard that you have already said goodbye to so many things and are not yet in a position to start saying hello to new things. I wonder just what God is up to … glad He knows!
Sending love and prayers from Chicago.
My mother in law can probably empathize with you Glenda. We live so far away already but London is even further. I know its hard for her, for all of us.
Shelly I would struggle most with being separated from my family. My girls and their husband are all within a 6 hour drive of us now. To be farther away would be so hard for me. And God has given me 6 days recently to get some things done in my house that have been long overdue. I’m thankful for that! I”m praying for you!
Melody, thanks for praying, I’m honored. And yes, letting go of our kids is truly hard. I’m sending my daughter off to college in another state and we’ll be across the Atlantic. I try not to think about it too often.
I’m on the back road, full of ruts and pot holes, where you aren’t sure of the destination, right now. Is all this time that I’m putting into Grad school worth fracturing so much around me? I sure hope it is as I jump into year #3 of my Masters degree and feel that day one jitters and whisper of: is it worth it? are you sure you are called to this – you don’t have any experience except for being you. I want to cry, but what else would I be doing? Probably volunteering at my son’s school or working at the preschool. Transition is difficult no matter what, but I’m feeling alone these days and that’s the hard part.
Tracey, I don’t know if the image will show up right but I’m attaching it. My husband literally came into my office less than five minutes ago to show this to me. And then I got your comment.
So true! 🙂
What a great visual! =]
Family. I would struggle with moving away from my nearly grown children. Just what it sounds like you’re doing. It has actually become a fear of mine recently.
“we aren’t responsible for the outcomes of our yeses, only obedience to Jesus, the One who creates happy endings.” Yes… Yes… I am in transition… kids marrying… having children… while I finish the last year of homeschooling my 5th… 26 yrs of being a homeschool mom… and He is calling me out… I feel it… I said a yes… a out of my comfort zone yes… and I think this is the first of many as I go where He leads… Thanks for the chance to receive the book.
I hope you’ll let us in on the calling Ro. Can’t wait to see what is next for you.
oh wow, Ro. I’m with Shelly! I hope you will be able to share. I am soooo excited for you!!!
I am the walking manifestation of Interrupted right now. My career, our plans for financial stability, my self esteem (to the extent that it was wrapped up in what I did more than who I was (and in Whom…). What would I struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use your life to make a difference in the world? Answer, I didn’t have a choice. He took it away and broke me (Thank You, Lord.) He accepted my feeble surrender, but it wasn’t enough. I’ve spent the last six months or so being ground to dust as in a crucible, and He is remaking me in a way that is more beautiful than I can articulate. How is God showing me He loves me recently? While I am not out of the crucible, I am, through much study and prayer, beginning to appreciate my absolute dependence upon Him. Jen so clearly articulates where I’m living right now, ““I hate that place and love it – depends on the day. There is a freedom in not being in control, when something utterly imagined by God is coming for you. It’s exciting and kind of awful,” That’s my life lately, exciting, kind of awful, but so beautiful in a way that is clearly Divine.
Shelly, I love the way you’ve always challenged me, encouraged my faith, and helped me make sense of the quiet and the painful times when it didn’t seem like God was around. What for me was interrupted? My arrogance and my pride, and even from a hurt and wounded place, I am grateful.
Peace and good to you on your journey, sweet sis. All will be well in Jesus’ name, Selah and amen,
Wow Chelle, first I’m so humbled that you would be so vulnerable, thank you. Second, I’m so sorry for all you are walking through because I know how barren and lonely that place is. But most of all, I’m inspired by the way you are choosing Jesus instead of giving up. And I feel the same way, we have no choice do we? I love you so very much. Thanks for being here.
Being willing to be Interrupted… by grace that we can’t see coming, and sometimes don’t recognize. Now that’s a real mark of maturity… Blessings on this journey.
I’ve been struggling with life interrupted, since chronic illness struck 6 years ago. If the enemy would have had his way, it would have been faith interrupted. But God… oh He has such bold plans that I’m only now even beginning to glimpse the magnitude of. Heart Hugs, Shelly <3
I think there is much to be learned from those who suffer daily with chronic illness. You have a resilience and perspective that is sacred. I appreciate the struggle and being able to find victory despite that. Thank you for sharing your journey Shelly, I appreciate that.
It’s a wonderful, terrible place to be. When the state trooper called about our son’s accident, life changed in an instant for us. We had to let go of much, but those were blessed days as we gained in other ways, beyond measure.
My daughter nearly lost her life when an 18 wheeler hit her. She walked away and we were all changed by it. I hope your son lived.
He didn’t walk for about 4 months, and then with a cane and brace. Praise God, he’s walking now without both. It was quite a journey. So thankful to have our Saviour by our side!
This post is so timely for me Shelly. My husband and I have been discussing what God has in store for us and if he might be leading us to something new including maybe a big move. I’m scared to give up the community in Idaho I have if Jesus is calling me to make a difference somewhere else. My husband also has felt Jesus leading him to make a difference in our churches high school ministry on top of the other ministries we are already involved in. I know they could use him and the high school boys want him to be a leader but I’m scared of the extra few hours it means away from us. Our church is starting a study using Interrupted next week so that’s pretty great timing as well.
Sounds like some changes are definitely on the horizon for you Cimarron. How exciting (and scary huh?). Great to know your church is doing the study, hope you win the book!
I love you, girlie… and I am praying for you, with you – believing that He is Interrupting you all for His purposes! As anticlimatic as the hand off was here, on earth… I’m pretty sure there was some noise going on up in heaven – He always celebrates our obedience! (Love that we are neighbors over at Jen’s place today as well!)
I chuckled when I saw you and I were next to each other in all those link ups. Awesome.
Shelly, thank you for writing this, and I was hoping you would know something today. I love that Hatmaker quote–the need to release what was before so you can grasp what will be. It’s a very interesting concept, because it describes the in-between. You are letting go of the past to grab hold of the future, but the future isn’t here it. It’s the “what will be.” And if you read that carefully, the past is already over. It’s the “what was.” So, it’s not like you are in the midst of something while reaching forward for something different. You have already put the past behind you, most likely by a decided act of your will, and you are reaching for something at present beyond your grasp. But because God has directed this exchange, you can rest in Him and the fact that He will place your future in your grasp just as soon as you need it to become your present. And I love that He never leaves you in the in-between. He is always present and He will never leave you. You are responsible to have said yes to Him to let go, but yes, what a relief that you are not responsible for the outcome. He is the God of outcomes, and He has bid you come, and He will make the way, and He IS the way. You don’t have to know the way, because you are following THE WAY. There is such beauty, peace, and yes, relief in that. Thanks for mentioning this book. I’ve never read anything by her, and it sounds like a wonderful way to be interrupted! =]
I read this several times Lynn. Thank you, it feels like a divine message, along with your email. 🙂
I’m so glad it was of some blessing. ACtually, the email just came forth so powerfully…..just didn’t feel like me. More later, and much love and many prayers.
Oh, and how is He showing me He loves me? With friend like you who reach out and pray. I would struggle to give up such friendships.
In the space of twenty-four hours we were thrown into the swirling morass that is cancer. Husband almost literally, walked from doctor office to surgery and onward to radiation with chemo. But there was light and Holy presence in the oncologist that prayed with us, and the sister who flew cross country to sit vigil during long hospital stays, and friends and pastors who sat beside the bed to lay-on-hands of prayer. Our Lord walked with us through it all. We have been in praise for His presence and healing for more than four years now.
What a wonderful story of grace and redemption Lisa. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea you walked through such a difficult time. Thanking God with you for healing.
I would struggle with so many things. So many. Comfort and security being chief among them. From the beginning, you have encouraged me that my lack of comfort may well be a tool of the Almighty… I am praying for you in these hard days.
Well, that is grace Natalie. You are such an encouragement to ME. Thank you for praying.
I have been through the struggle to leave places dearly loved, and people dearly loved and let go of friendships of those who were closer than blood relatives. And many years later He is showing me how much he loves and cares for me by giving back those friendships stronger than before. Giving me the chance to minister to them since I walked the road before them that they are walking now.
God has healed a dear friendship… with a family who lives in London. Praying that God will allow me the opportunity to visit someday and I will look you up for visit and a coffee (or tea).
(Yes I didn’t follow the guidelines for the give-away, it being in past tense and all, but hey, It is what the Lord gave me to share.) 😉
Oh, I am so glad to hear this Sharon. I know you’ve been through some pretty rough seasons yourself. And oh.my.gosh that would be so fun to meet up in London. *squee* No worries about the guidelines, I’m just glad you are here. You’re in!
Security. I would struggle to give up the safety and security of the life I know. What a challenging post, Shelly! I’ve told you before how in awe I am of your family’s decision to pack everything up and go. I wonder every time I think of you if I would be able to do that. Thank you for your vulnerability to admit your doubts and struggles as you step out in faith and obedience to what God has called you to do. It’s not an easy path, but I pray these unknowns will make it all the sweeter when all the pieces begin to fall into glorious place! Hugs, friend!
Christy @ A Heartening Life
I think that our conversations in that room at Refine will be something I never forget. You are a gift Christy, thank you for being my friend.
I would struggle to give up the safety I feel my wife and children now experience.
Christ is showing me his love lately by softening my heart and pulling me out of a season of intense unforgiveness and a self imposed exile from God. Specifically a response to a boundary I recently set with someone and their unselfish response to it.
Thanking God with you for new freedom from that hard place. Self-imposed exile — those words are haunting. I almost put myself there this week but wrestled back through prayer. It’s actually the first time I even thought about it but God loves us so much, even when we don’t understand his ways. Thanks so much for stopping by and being vulnerable here, I appreciate it.
Relationships are always the toughest for me to give up, and after multiple moves, I feel like I hold on even more to the most precious of those. But it’s also one of the consistent ways in which God shows me he loves me – by giving beautiful friends now where I am.
How exciting that you’re moving to England – it will be great to have another writer over here in Europe. I wish there was a blogging collective or something like that for those of us on this side of the world.
Devi, where do you live in Europe? I’m making it a point to connect with bloggers there. I agree about a blogging collective, that is something on my heart I hope to cultivate once I get to London.
Shelly, we live in Stockholm, Sweden at the moment but will be moving next summer. I’ll send you an email soon 🙂 – it would be great to be part of something.
What a great story you are starting to write! I too was one of the bloggers who reviewed Interrupted. Once you know, you can’t go back.
I kept trying to think of what I would struggle to give up and it seemed like there are too many things. I need to let Him tell me what I should keep.
Surrender is hard indeed. Thanks for being here Sarah! Isn’t Interrupted great?
God showed his love to me just now–in a towering cloud formation, silver-edged, with beams radiating high into the atmosphere. Such a sight always causes me to imagine God so close that he’s right there behind the cloud. I love sunbeams; they seem like a special love-gift from my Heavenly Father.
I know God will bless you richly on your faith journey, Shelly. In the end you will have a powerful story to share, how an interrupted life is also intensely enriching!