When I started college, I had grand ambitions for a career in national security. To pad my resume, I planned to study Arabic, candidate as an officer in the Marine Corps, and complete a master’s degree in international relations. My end goal? Counterintelligence for the CIA. (Seriously.) By the end of my sophomore year, I was well on my way with sterling letters of recommendation and an internship lined up in Washington, DC. Everything was coming together and then two things happened: I met a girl and I spent spring break in Omaha, Nebraska. Stay with me.
The summer before my junior year, I studied abroad for two months. During that trip, I met the woman who would eventually become my wife. I did not know that at the time, but what I did know is that a career in national security would require a lifetime of secrets. After meeting her and beginning to dream of a future together, that thought began to unsettle me.
A few months later, I traveled with a group to Omaha, Nebraska, where we served a local church during spring break. Over the course of the week, we studied scripture with the pastors, sorted clothes at a local non-profit for refugees, and cleaned out a house formerly occupied by drug addicts. You know, your typical spring break activities. But when I returned home, I began to feel the Lord burden me with a desire to go back, one that threatened all of my plans. In less than two months’ time, I was planning to pack up and head to DC, but I could not shake this compulsion.
The more I prayed and asked for advice, the more it became clear to me that I needed to spend that summer in Omaha, which meant turning down DC and upsetting everything I envisioned for my life. After a month of wrestling my options, I made the decision to move to Nebraska. It was a pivotal interruption for me, one that changed the entire trajectory of my future. And I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
I don’t like interruptions, but my life is better for them. If you go back and reread that first paragraph, you’ll notice how often the terms “I” and “my” appear. Everything was about my goals and what I wanted to do with my life. My ambition isolated me. So God interrupted.
My guess is that interruptions annoy precisely because they confront us with ourselves. They require flexibility where we prefer a straight line. But we need them to look up and beyond ourselves. And God in his grace is in the business of interrupting.
That’s the idea around which we have crafted this month’s issue. Sometimes those interruptions come in the form of a film or a portrait. Other times, they appear as the death of a loved one or the birth of a child. No matter their design, they confront us with ourselves in order to move us beyond ourselves. And that is a gift we would do well to embrace.
Thanks for reading.
Cover image by Clem Onojeghuo.
Sign Up Today
You don’t have to miss anything. We send out weekly notifications when we publish a new issue. We like you—so we won’t sell your info to Google or the NSA or even advertisers, they probably already have it anyway.