If you’ve been a TV watcher long enough to remember the transition to color and the men who would actually come to your house and duck behind the console to fix your set, you remember the words in the title of this devotional. They would signal a pause in the planned programming to “bring you this important announcement.” In fact, this week’s piece is an unplanned interruption of the Bankrupt! series, which we hope to return to next week.
As I write this, my mother is in hospice care in our local hospital. She had two heart attacks in a row on July 3rd, and is not expected to live much longer. By the time you read this, she may be rejoicing at home—in heaven, that is. One night, as she was living her life in her apartment, she heard, in essence, those words: “We interrupt this program.”
We make plans for our lives, and rightfully so. A life without plans and hopes and dreams is empty and meaningless; a mere existence, not a life. Sometimes the only reason we find to stay alive is to find a reason to stay alive. It is said that a man can live a few weeks without food, a few days without water, and a few seconds without hope. So it is good to have plans.
However, we need to remember that there is One Whose plans override ours. We are not the captains of our fate, the kings of our castle. We need to keep in mind that “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV). God has the authority to say, “We interrupt this program.”
So often, we lead ourselves astray with our plans. We don’t necessarily plan to do evil, but we can blindly (or occasionally with one eye open) follow a wrong course for our life. This is why the Bible tells us:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil (Proverbs 3:5-7).
In order to avoid the wrong paths, we need to seek God’s will through prayer, Bible study, and wise counsel as we make our plans. We were taught a very valuable lesson in seminary: always plan for the unexpected. It’s always good to have a Plan B in place as well. The truth of James’s passage has taken on more urgent meaning lately:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins (James 4:13-17).
Interruptions come in various forms, not all of which are necessarily fatal or even bad:
• “I love you, but . . . ”
• “Mr. Smith, the results of your biopsy indicate . . . ”
• “Mrs. Jones, this is Officer O’Reilly calling . . . ”
• “This is Billy’s teacher . . . ”
• “This is Ed McMahon. You have just won . . . ”
• “Hmmm, who could that be this time of night?”
• “What’s this official looking letter?”
• “Wow! I haven’t heard from him in years!”
• “Watch this!”
You get the idea.
As I walk around my mother’s apartment, I see the evidence of unfulfilled plans: open cookie boxes, unread books, dry houseplants, laundry, tickets, bills . . . those little bits of life we take for granted. And soon the family will step in and sweep away all the vestiges of her life, and the room will be rented to another person with plans and dreams and goals. Waters will flow into the sea, and return to the clouds.
What is the program of your life? Does your teleplay include time for Jesus Christ? Are you the star of your story? Have you left room for improvisation or written two or three possible endings? Are you allowing the Lord to coauthor and edit as He sees fit? Most of all, be prepared to hear those four little words: