Disruption. That’s pretty much the whole last few months. A disruption. Nearly everything in our lives and world have been disrupted. For me, my work week has changed, my office is now my kitchen table, two international trips have been postponed, meetings are by video, and so on. You name it for yourself. Kids home from school, vacation postponed, personal protection equipment required, and much more.
Have you ever thought of a disruption as a blessing? Most of us resist change. We get comfortable with routines and habits. As a long-time police chaplain, I remember when our department first started putting computers in the patrol cars. A few early adopters couldn’t wait. Others had a ‘wait and see’ attitude. But I mostly remember the loud complaints and all the reasons why it would be such a pain to switch to computers. Now, I don’t know of any officer who would not want a computer in their patrol car to have instantaneous GPS, looking up a car tag while stopped at a traffic light, writing reports on scene, using a driver’s license reader, printing a traffic citation and so much more. The disruption of change created a blessing.
When I read the scriptures, there are so many examples where a disruption became a blessing. Four hundred years of slavery of the Jewish nation in Egypt was disrupted by ten plagues and Moses leading them into the wilderness toward the Promised Land. Joseph being sold by his brothers to slave traders and later becoming Prince of Egypt. David being anointed as the future king of Israel but spending more than a decade hiding in desert caves while being hunted down by a jealous King Saul. All of these Biblical stories include disruption and blessing.
Is there a possibility that our current world-wide disruption could lead to blessing? What if it led to more gratitude and less taking things for granted, more time for family meals around the table and less of a hurried pace rushing off to the next soccer practice, more appreciation of our teachers and less criticism of the school system, more thankfulness for our medical providers and less denunciation of our health-care organizations? What if disruption actually leads to blessing?
Helen Keller said it well, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.” Someone else had a slightly different angle on a similar thought, “It’s not a dead end if it takes you somewhere you needed to go.” A disruption is an opportunity. I’ve seen it many times. Career disruptions often lead to previously unimagined job or starting a business opportunity. Health disruptions sometimes jar us to new levels of self-care. Relationship disruptions may force us to deal with an addiction or a bad habit. A pandemic disruption can help us establish a healthier pace of life. Never waste a crisis…it’s always an opportunity for growth.
As a pastor, I’m convinced that God excels at using disruptions to bring blessings. He has a very long history using that style. One of my favorite first-century stories comes from the life of Apostle Paul. He was totally focused on going to the crossroad city of Rome to share his faith because of the immense potential for widespread impact (Romans 1:10-11; 15:22ff). Turns out, since he was a ringleader of the spread of Christianity, Emperor Nero made sure Paul got a free ride to a Roman prison where he eventually died. Little did he realize, exactly how his goal would be fulfilled in the providential scheme of things. When he writes from the Roman jail to the Jesus-followers who lived in Philippi, he views his two-year imprisonment as a minor inconvenience compared to the unexpected opportunity to impact Rome through personal witness and through writing epistles (letters). It turns out, that because he had plenty of time to slow down and sit in jail, Paul left a written legacy in many of the other churches he had started throughout Europe and the Middle East (Philippians 1:12-26). The blessing of disruption.
As we prepare to move toward “the way things used to be,” let’s not forget the things that need to be different. However, there is no comfort in growth and no growth in comfort. So, no one will ever finish well by accident. Cory Demmel reminds us, “We have uphill hopes and downhill habits.” You will have to be intentional if you want to experience the blessing of disruption.
QUESTION: Have you ever had a disruption that led to a blessing? Would you share it with me in the comment section below?