Have you ever had a conversation with someone that ended with you both stopping and thinking “how the heck did we get on this topic?!”
Say you’re at dinner… I’ll say Chili’s for this illustration… and you recall a time where you ate so much chips and salsa and drank so much sweet tea that you suddenly had to run to the bathroom to throw up because you ate too much (yeah, true story. Lol)…
…and that reminds your friend of a time she was on a date and she got sick and ended up throwing up on the dude (okay, yeah… also happened to me)…
…and that gets you on the conversation of ex-boyfriends and dates gone wrong…
…and your friend shares that sappy love-story about how she met her prince charming husband…
…and that brings up conversation about their wedding night, when her grandma was doing the Cupid Shuffle on the dance floor and ended up breaking a hip and having to be transported to the ER…
…then you of course have to share how you broke your nose falling UP the stairs your freshman year of high school (yep, another true story), severely sprained your ankle while skipping like an idiot down the sidewalk at 3AM after UK’s Big Blue Madness (true), and broke your collar bone after throwing yourself off a four wheeler (true), all requiring ER visits…
Wait… how the heck did we get from Chili’s chips and salsa to sitting in the ER with a broken collar bone?!
Just like life.
For example, you graduate high school and go to college. Maybe the college was determined by the career path you chose. You finish college and the business where you did your internship offers you a job. Then you’re transferred to another city, offered a promotion, meet your spouse at that location, follow them to their new job promotion, decide to have children, move to a smaller town near your parents to raise them, and you grow old together while living out the American dream.
Lots of changes occurred for this silhouette of an American… but life flowed.
What happens though, when flow comes to a dead stop? Like a piece of paper ripped in two. Like a collapsed bridge.
Your marriage ends.
You have to leave your job because you suddenly have nowhere to live.
So you move, leaving behind your beloved church, friends… your flow of life.
This has been my struggle since last fall.
Up until then, my life had flowed easily and naturally from one step to the next.
I went from high school to college, then on to grad school, where I completed my final fieldwork in a new town where my boyfriend at the time lived… he proposed, we got married and settled down to continue the flow of life…
Suddenly though, it all came to a crashing halt.
My question has been, “how do I start a new flow?
I never imagined myself living in this city. Most of my friends are scattered over the state (or should I say United States) and very few live in this area. I love my job, but it’s just another disconnected piece of my new life. I church-hunted and settled on one I do love… but again, it doesn’t yet feel part of a flow. It’s disconnected from the other pieces of my life.
It’s like handfuls of different colors of paint have been grabbed from random buckets and thrown at my canvas of life. It doesn’t seem as if they were intended for the same canvas… but the artist was just scrambling to put something together.
I can’t imagine how those dislocated by the flooding in New Orleans… or the earthquake in Haiti… or the tornadoes in Alabama felt when their flow of life was disrupted. No work… no school… family killed. Forced to start over with nothing but the clothes on their backs in many cases.
Talk about flow interrupted! How do you start over from there?! I can’t even imagine.
Then I think of Bible stories where flow was severely disrupted.
God says to Noah, “Dude. Build this giant ark because I’m going to wipe out the earth and start over. ” Whaaaat..?
I’m sure Noah’s flow, his way of life, changed dramatically. When the water receded and he exited the boat with his family, he had to completely start over.
Joseph, the youngest of twelve brothers, was thrown in to a well by those very brothers, and as if that wasn’t enough, he was then sold in to Egyptian slavery! I’m sure he felt his flow a tad interrupted.
Or think about Esther… she had already lost both of her parents and was being raised by her uncle. Then, after a decree from the King, was presented along with the other beautiful young women in the empire, and chosen to be the King’s WIFE! Her life dramatically changed!!
All of these people… all these lives, interrupted by either sin, a consequence of sin or the curse on the earth… many lives even interrupted by God’s ordaining. (I won’t, however, venture to say which story was a result of which.)
I will say though, it IS clear that any time a life is interrupted by sin, God did NOT “make it happen.” He doesn’t “make” people sin. Yes, He allows it to happen while we are a part of this fallen world… and then, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, He works everything out for good (Romans 8:28).
Maybe we all have more in common than we would typically share publicly.
For me, it was a divorce that I never saw coming and frankly, didn’t want.
Maybe for others it was the death of a loved one. Or a loss of a job. Sexual abuse. Depression or suicide attempt.
Maybe most of us have felt knocked off of our feet at some time or another and scrambled to get back up and either start over, or attempt to pick up where we left off.
The thing that strikes me though about life’s flow and how easily and quickly it can be interrupted is what continued to flow despite feeling like my life came to a screeching halt.
When the road of my life collapsed, God’s presence and His love for me and his relentless pursuit of my heart flowed CONSTANTLY.
Even when I was extremely angry… angry at the world, angry at all those who hurt me, abandoned me… even angry at God for allowing my marriage to fail… He never let me go. I lost all desire to go to church, stopped praying to Him every day, and pushed aside His word. I admit, I was afraid to trust Him again. I had trusted Him… and I was hurt.
But even though I pushed Him away, He never let me go.
He reeled me back in, reminding me tenderly of how real His love for me is. He reminded me that my hurt was a result of a sinful and fallen world, not a hurt from Him. He sent friends to assist in mending my heart by loving on me and reminding me of God’s promises. I felt abandoned, but I wasn’t. He provided a new church home at just the right time… and scripture to touch my life when I needed it most. I was reminded of how I love to worship Him and read His living Word, the source of ultimate truth! He encouraged me through the words of authors and pastors in sermons and books, helping to redirecting my focus. He lit a fire in my heart for missions, which in turn took the focus off of myself and turned it towards those who don’t know Him and towards an exciting future that He has in store for me. He reminded me that my “maker is my husband – the Lord Almighty is His name.” (Isaiah 54:5). He is the husband that will never leave.
He provides a love that will always flow.
If any of you are experiencing this interruption of flow in your life, or have never truly recovered from a time where you felt like your life came to a screeching halt, please be encouraged.
There is so much grace waiting for you.
There is so much love to be poured out on you.
God is too big to let earthly obstacles or interruptions deter Him from His ultimate plan.
If we believe that our life obstacles can get in the way of God’s love or God’s plan for us, then we’re saying that we are bigger than God. He is sovereign. Our mess-ups and life’s messes will never stop His love from flowing.
There are new adventures awaiting that He is excited to take us on.
And there is NOTHING that will ever stop His love from pouring out on us…
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
…so let it flow!