I have an idea for a book that sounds just crazy enough to be good. For about ten years now, I have been trying to write a novel. Last year, I finally convinced a publisher to give me a chance. At our last meeting I said something like, "If you all are crazy enough to commit to it, I'm crazy enough to try to write it." (Perhaps too much honesty is not such a good thing at such times.)


Since that time I have been writing away in between trips. So far I've got about half of it done. But the novel is not the point. It is not the crazy book I referred to above. The struggle against interruptions is what has begun to fascinate me most. I'd like to write a book about trying to write a book, a book about the interruptions that happen and how much more meaningful they can be if you only have eyes to see it.


For some time I've been teetering on the edge of the conviction that God uses pain more than anything else to teach and shape us. One definition of "irritation" might be "a lesser pain."


Interruptions represent what can be an extreme irritation. The succession of small hurts that continue to keep me from my "real" work have begun to profoundly affect the way I see myself and those around me. This sort of severe schooling is what the Lord is best at.


Let me give a few examples from just this week. On Monday we were supposed to turn in the tour bus we rent. Our agreement with the company says it must be cleaned before it comes back. Usually we simply pay someone else to do the job but this tour left us without the funds to pay this fee. No one was free to do the job except me. After all I only had this novel to write. And so on what was supposed to be my first writing day, I spent about six hours washing the outside, cleaning carpets, laundering sheets and making beds (12 of them!), all the while muttering under my breath that I had something else more important to do! This novel to write! I finished around nine in the evening, exhausted and without the energy to write into the night.


As I lay in bed, grumpy, irritated, the Spirit started the school lesson. Did I think I was too important to do the job I was clearly being called to do? How often had I taught about humility? What about the life changing lesson from heroes like Booker T. Washington about the dignity of common labor?


One after the other the questions came. When I finally drifted off to sleep, still aching from the work, my heart was in a different place. I was beginning to learn an important lesson from the irritation of the interruption that would never have been learned otherwise.


Tuesday morning, 4:30 A.M. Once more, this was to be a totally open day for writing, but then the phone rang. On the other end is the voice of the wife of one of my close friends. He is in the hospital. They are going into surgery in a couple of hours. Can I come and pray with them?