A TIMELY INCONVENIENCE
Have you ever been annoyed by an inconvenience? Recently, I believed I was being unnecessarily inconvenienced. Although exasperated, I was making every effort to maintain a calm demeanor before calling the cable company. "For whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs 16:32 ESV).
Unable to access emails on one of my iPhone email accounts, I was thoroughly frustrated. Although not a problem in the past, I was now getting a message instructing me to set up a new account, despite the fact that I already had an account. I wanted to make sure that nothing nefarious was happening.
I called and talked with a pleasant lady who informed me that their app had been updated; therefore, it was necessary to follow the prompts, so that everything could be corrected. With renewed hope that the problem would be quickly resolved, I thanked her and hung up.
After following each prompt, the program updated, and then a message appeared, "Unable to access account." Really? Really?! Mail was there, because I had just viewed it on my computer, so why not on my iPhone?
Frustrated, I called again and explained my situation to a very sweet girl. She apologized for my trouble and said she would need to place me on hold to retrieve some information. A minute later, she returned to the phone and apologized once again, explaining that she needed to do a little more research and then asked permission to place me on hold again. I assured her that waiting was not a problem. "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love..." (Ephesians 4:2 ESV).
As I waited, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart, "You did not add your new password to your phone." I wondered why God had not shared that information with me before I called.
Feeling very foolish, I hurriedly updated the password and voila! The mail started coming into my phone.
The representative came back on the phone, and was in the midst of apologizing once again, when I giggled and said, "No need to apologize. I owe you an apology. The problem was me! I had changed my password but neglected to update my iPhone. Realizing my mistake, I added the new password while waiting for you, and all my emails downloaded." Chuckling again, I added, "I guess that's what happens when you're 72. You don't always remember everything" She laughed and said, "I can't remember things, and I'm 24."
She then told me that her day had started out badly when she was late for work. Then when she gathered information to sort out my problem, she was unsure how to present the information to me. Since she had been late, she did not want to ask her supervisor. She said, "Your joy, laughter, and kindness have made my day. You live up to your name, Joy."
Kindness, patience, and an apology are simple gifts to offer to others. God knew her need for compassion, understanding, and a little humor to set her on the right footing for the day. He calls us to bear with one another in love with all humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2 ESV). When the phone call ended, I literally said aloud, "That was so sweet, Lord." Again in my spirit, I heard Him say, "That was a timely inconvenience and I want you to write about it."
The word "timely" means something that is well-timed, appropriate, and expedient. "Inconvenience" means anything that causes trouble, trials, problems, difficulties, stress, irritation, or discomfort. Used together, the words may sound like an oxymoron, but our omniscient God will plan well-timed inconveniences to accomplish His divine purposes and show His sovereignty.
How many times have we been delayed or inconvenienced in traffic or have had to wait an excessive amount of time in line at a place of business? God just might have delayed us to be a blessing to someone needing a kind word or a helping hand. Maybe that inconvenience was for an attitude adjustment. Or possibly that inconvenient delay saved our life.
Investment banker, George Keith, had a meeting
scheduled on September 11, 2001, for 9 a.m. on the 79th floor of the World Trade Center. However, while driving through Central Park the night before, the transmission of his new BMW got stuck in first gear. The breakdown forced him to cancel his morning meeting. He would realize on the morning of the 11th that what he had perceived as an irritating and inconvenient problem with his new vehicle was in actuality a life-saving blessing in disguise.
Monica O'Leary thought it more than an inconvenience when she was laid off from her job at a technology company with offices on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. When she said goodbye to her colleagues on September 10, 2001, she had no way of knowing that the very next day all of her business associates would die in the deadliest attack in American history.
Jesus had been required to lay aside His divine privileges and take on the form of a human. Although he knew that His mission would be messy and inconvenient, He also knew that through His obedience, blessings, and eternal life would come to all who will believe and receive Him.
If we are His obedient, teachable, and available servants, then we will be required to experience timely inconveniences, which provide great opportunities to grow in faith and become mature Christians. Therefore, as God's people whom He dearly loves, we are to take every opportunity to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).
We are encouraged to "do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count other more significant than ourselves. Let each look not only on their interest, but look to the interests of others. Therefore, we are to have the mind of Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:2-8 ESV)
Are we willing to pour ourselves out to make room for those inconvenient moments that God uses to shape, mold, and guide us in becoming a blessing to others? So the next time circumstances delay or frustrate, it just might be one of God's orchestrated, timely inconveniences growing our faith and adjusting our attitude.
PRAYER: FATHER, forgive me if I have had a bad attitude in those times of inconvenience. Help me to recognize that Your sovereign hand moves in mysterious ways and that You use very timely inconveniences to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. Help me to always be faithful to obey You, to be available when You call, to have the right attitude, and to always be teachable, so that I can learn from You and be a blessing to others. In Jesus name, amen.