Guest post by Samantha Spittle
What if interruptions in our lives are divine appointments rather than devilish schemes?
Originally, I wasn’t planning to go on the cruise.
Friends were all going to celebrate accomplishments in their business, but I felt like I needed to spend time at home getting my ducks in a row. About two weeks before the cruise, two women had to cancel, which left two non-refundable spots available.
It’s a sign!
A friend and I decided to jump onboard (pun intended) and got tickets to Florida to set sail with the rest of our friends.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
My preference would have been to fly down the day before, since flight delays could mean missing the cruise’s departure; however, the cheapest tickets available put us in town with JUST enough time to set sail! Two flights, checked baggage arrival, and the shuttle ride to the ship had to coordinate smoothly to make this happen. My mom was busy at home praying that everything would be on schedule and that I would make the call time.
Flight one took off without a hitch! Racing through the second airport, there seemed to be a minor delay, but the plane took off on schedule, and we touched down in FL on time! After scouring the baggage claim for my bag, I finally spotted it out on the conveyer belt, scooped it up, and ran to the shuttle.
When we boarded the bus, we discovered the driver’s paperwork was not up to date, and he couldn’t find our reservation. Miraculously he worked it out and brought us to the ship! With each victory, I called to check in with my mom to celebrate that things were falling into place.
Finally, the bus pulled up to the dock!
I remember like it was yesterday--the wind blowing, the waves rolling in the water, the gigantic cruise ship, and the loud Caribbean music playing over the speakers as our driver checked everyone off his manifest. We got in line to start boarding.
My turn! “Ellis”
I responded. “Samantha.”
“Spell it, please,” he commanded.
Again, I repeated, “E-L-L-I-S…like the island.”
More silence. He looked up at me. My stomach sank.
My name was NOT on the manifest. Not only was my name not there, but neither was my friend’s nor two other women’s.
Deep breath. It’s all good I thought with a smile. “No worries! Who do we need to speak with or what do we need to do to get this sorted out?” Richard explained that due to new security protocols, names needed to be on the manifest ahead of time in order to board. No. Matter. What.
I will spare you the ideas I came up with to make it work and all of the back and forth because bottom line, it was NOT happening (but I tried, I really did!).
Finally, I called my mom and burst into tears. Until then, I had been a mature, responsible adult, handling my business and having a positive attitude. Once I told her, I accepted defeat and knew it wasn’t happening. I took two more flights back home (making that 4 in one day) to sit for the next 5 days while everyone was enjoying a Caribbean vacation.
I should also add that this was the end of the month, and I worked in sales. If you are unfamiliar with “month end” in sales, it usually involves wrapping up all of your loose ends and working until the very end to meet your goals. I had already arranged everything to be sure my goals were met, so I could be off the grid! Now, less than 12 hours after seeing the cruise ship in the rear view mirror of the shuttle bus, I sat in the bagel shop with my friend commiserating over my lost cruise.
Being that I worked with all women, I was sure that I would meet my husband on this cruise! How cool would that be?! Up until the manifest fiasco, everything had fallen into place perfectly, and it seemed like it was meant to be that I was on that ship! Now what?
Things don’t always go as we plan. Just when we are moving along a path that seems so clear, the bottom can easily drop out from under us. It is these times when we are tempted to see these interruptions as devilish schemes.
But what if they are divine appointments?
I recalled James 1:2-3,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
If only it were that simple.
I suppose it could be for some since anything is possible with God. A thought—an idea, verse, or piece of advice--could cause a mind shift, and you too could be on your way to overcoming challenges with a joyful spirit. For others, not so much.
Going back to James, I don’t think he is expecting us to face a trial and immediately have a smile on our faces. God created us to feel emotions, so when adversity comes along, whether it’s trivial like a missed cruise or something truly devastating, our first reactions are usually disappointment, sadness, or anger. I think that’s okay. What comes next is what’s important. This is the framework around how we view our circumstances.
If you are like me, you need to guard yourself to keep focused on God. Thanks to so many sharing their testimonies, especially amongst t.His tribe members, we know that during hard, really trying times, God is there and can use all for good.
What are some ways we can reframe life’s interruptions to see them as divine appointments?
1. Remember the Resurrection.
Christ is Risen. He is Risen Indeed! No matter what happens in our lives, it is already finished. The story has already been told. Jesus rose again, and he LIVES. We don’t know exactly how our story will end, especially when we are in the middle of it, but we know the end of His story (the resurrection) and can trust in Him to work all things for our good.
2. Study the Bible
When you study the Bible regularly you can remember James’ teaching and other truths. The way we see our trials has a huge impact on our journey. Believe that hard times are for our good, even if we don’t understand it. It is through studying the Word that we can fill our hearts with these truths so that when trials come along, we can be grounded.
3. Make your plans assuming God will interrupt them with some divine appointment.
There is no harm in making plans; the important part is to keep God in mind and remain open to His interruptions.
4. Offer your day to God in prayer while you remain open to His interruption.
Every morning, offer your day to God and ask to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Know today is a gift, and His mercies are new every morning.
5. Surround yourself with Christian friends who speak Truth into your life and remind you of His will.
It’s easy to get caught up in our circumstances and lose sight of the bigger picture. When we aren’t keeping our focus on Christ, our friends, whom we trust, can help get us back on track.
When the cruise debacle was playing out down in Florida, as sad as I was to be missing the cruise, I strangely had a sense of peace about it. At the time, I was in a leadership position with my company and felt a responsibility to lead by example and maintain a positive attitude. I think the biggest factor in helping me maintain my sanity through it all was knowing that God was in control.
The beauty of friendship is that God can use it to help us reframe life’s interruptions.
After listening to me vent about my failed plans, my wise friend encouraged me to make the best of my weekend since God could use all things for good!
I took her advice and changed my attitude in an attempt to make the best of it. After calling a list of friends in Virginia, I finally found one, Jeremy, without concrete plans who invited me (well, let’s be honest, I invited myself) down for the weekend.
My plan had me traveling on a ship, going to exotic locations, and meeting the man of my dreams. God’s plan apparently had me driving down to Virginia for a pig roast. Obviously, I was giving up on the dream of meeting my husband that weekend and decided to have fun with my old college friends.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Before leaving, my friend asked me why Jeremy and I weren’t dating, so I rationally explained that he is exactly the kind of guy I wanted to marry but just not him. I emphasized that since we had been friends for so long it would be weird, and I didn’t want to ruin the friendship we had built. She responded, “Did you ever think you are friends because you are supposed to date?”
Nope, no I had not. After always looking for reasons why NOT to do something, I finally saw the light shining on something I had never thought of--why we SHOULD. Food for thought, I tucked it away in my brain and headed down to Virginia with no plans to even bring up such a topic!
Luckily, God is good and made sure I didn’t miss the point. Within an hour of being in Virginia, another friend grilled me about why Jeremy and I weren’t dating. Giving her the same response as my friend up north, she responded, “Did you ever think that is why you are friends?”
Interesting. I guess the next logical person to talk to about this would be Jeremy. After working up the courage to approach the subject, I sheepishly asked, “Have you ever thought about us dating?”
His instant reply of “yes” wiped away the fear and doubt and opened my eyes to what God had been planning all along.
8 years of marriage later, and I am thankful my name was NOT on that manifest.
Mostly I'm thankful for God's divine appointments!