Divine Disturbances

September 29, 2020 • Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross

If you have children or have been around children, you know how difficult it is to have a conversation without being interrupted. My three children are all at the age where they have become quite adept at trying to get their parent’s attention (they can actually be quite persistent). We are in that phase of trying to teach them that when they see adults conversing, they should wait. We teach our children that IT'S NOT POLITE TO INTERRUPT, it really is a skill we want to help them master. No one likes to be disturbed, it feels invasive, intrusive, and at times abrasive.

I don’t know if God has mastered this skill. In fact, I’m quite sure God hasn’t. The Bible is a collection of disturbances. God readily shows up in people’s lives with these untimely disturbances and interruptions, as if unaware of people plans and agendas.

  • The burning bush - disturbance. 
  • Calling of the first disciples - disturbance. 
  • Leaving Egypt – major disturbance! 

While invasive, intrusive, and at times abrasive, these divine disturbances were the catalyst to change what the people needed. 

I wonder if this is the reason why justice eludes us. Have we become a community that desires a journey of change that is void of any interruptions or disturbances? Do the marches and protesters feel intrusive? Did the kneeling at football games seem abrasive? Do we love justice enough to cancel our regularly scheduled programs of privilege and power to have our lives transformed?

Here are three things that often keep us from embracing these divine disturbances: 

  1. The “Ideals” - Let’s face it, when our lives are interrupted it never feels like the ideal time or place. Many of us struggle with recognizing and embracing these interruptions because we are constantly waiting for the ideal time to change, the ideal method of protest, ideal strategies, ideal plans, and even ideal people. If we keep waiting for the ideal time to act, we could lose the moment.
  2. The “Feel Goods” - We love a feel good moment. We like movies, songs, and memories that make us feel good. But as I stated previously, disturbances are invasive, intrusive, and at times abrasive, they don’t feel good. But they aren’t designed to feel good. The goal of a divine disturbance is to disrupt a certain rhythm in our lives so that our attention is arrested and our behavior is changed. We often assume that the pain of intrusions provides reasons for abandoning their lessons. Just because the work of justice and equality doesn’t always feel good, doesn’t mean it's not worth the effort.  
  3. The “Losses” - At the heart of divine disturbance is what we stand to lose: time, agendas, etc. Instead of asking, “What do I stand to lose?” let's change the question to, “What do I stand to gain?”. While we grieve the moment stolen by these interruptions and disturbances, we will be a different community when we embrace the moments in our lives where God lovingly and willingly intervenes. For even the best of journeys are consistently and constantly interrupted and disturbed.  

I want to encourage you to look for divine disruptions in your life. When your initial response is to look at how this will change the ideal, that it doesn’t feel good, or to focus on what you stand to lose...take a pause. Take a moment to sit with God and discern if what feels like an interruption to your plan might really be a divine disturbance from God. 

About Jevon: 

Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross is a Michigan native and Ivy Leaguer working side-by-side with his wife Nicole in ministry at St. Luke's UMC, Indy. With three young children, he enjoys working with families at various milestone events where deep connections are encouraged and strengthened. He is currently the Teaching and Guest Experience Pastor and also leads the Digital Engagement team. 

Rev. Dr. Jevon Caldwell-Gross