But first, an embarrassing story.
When Toy Story 3 came out in 2010, we were super excited to see it. We had loved Toy Story 1 and 2 – they'd been family favorites and the source of perfect quotes ("That's not flying, it's FALLING....with style!") for years.
But what made Toy Story 3 so anticipated was the fact that it had 3D animation.
Every review we read regaled us with how this incredible new technology made the colors more vivid, the action so real, and the animation unbelievable! On and on went the accolades, so that the entire country was abuzz over it.
We couldn't wait! When it finally arrived at our theater, we bought our tickets, received our packages containing special 3D glasses, and sat down in the best seats, ready for this transcendent experience we'd heard so much about.
I put my glasses on, and then good golly, oh for crying out loud. I immediately needed to make a last minute run to the ladies' room. I put the glasses in my purse and made a beeline so I wouldn't miss anything.
I made it back to my seat just as the movie was beginning, so I pulled my glasses out and sat back to enjoy the new wonder of THREE DEE.
Instantly, I knew we'd been had.
This whole 3D hype was a sham!
Not only was the animation NOT better, it was worse! The colors were muddy. The picture was blurry. The animation was dim.
It was terrible. Ridiculous! A huge disappointment!
And the worst part was that everyone in the theater was pretending to enjoy it!
Well, I was upset. I felt like the little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes, the only one in the crowd with the courage to see right through this hoax. I was about to stand up and shout the naked truth to the capacity crowd, when my husband glanced at me...and then did a double-take.
"Rachel, why are you wearing your sunglasses?" he whispered. He had that one-eyebrow-up look I've come to know so well.
I slowly removed them and took a look.
Ignoring Tom's snicker, I rummaged around in my purse for the correct pair and put them on.
Oh. my. word.
AMAZING! Such vivid colors! Such incredible animation! The picture just sparkled!
It was magical! I was mesmerized.
Here's the thing: It was the same movie...I just had different lenses on.
You see, the right lenses made all the difference.
This weekend, I spoke to a wonderful group of people in Arkansas, who had read Flash as part of their state-wide book club, and asked me to come and share personally with them "beyond the book." It was so much fun to hear their stories, and learn how my four-legged "interruption" had impacted them through the lessons I wrote about in the pages.
I was reminded that no matter what our stories are, it seems that life's interruptions are unavoidable.
Problem is, not all of them are cute, fuzzy ones with long ears.
Some of them are just plain hard. They can make you feel afraid, anxious and overwhelmed.
Things like a divorce, a job loss, a relocation, loss of a loved one...things that just knock the stuffing right out of you.
Even the "good" interruptions like new babies, kids growing up and moving away, job promotions, new marriages...well, they can make you feel off-kilter and anxious as well.
But even though we may not be able to change our circumstances, we CAN change the lenses we view them with.
Viewing our interruptions through the right lenses transforms how we respond to them.
And our responses have the power to change the world around us, because transformed people transform the world.
If you are facing an unexpected or uninvited interruption today, let me suggest three lenses that will make all the difference in how you view it.
The first is the lens of Faith.
This is not a "just believe harder" kind of exercise, but more of a "rest in God's presence" point of view.
This lens doesn't deny that what you're experiencing may be hard. It is hard. It may be very hard. But it also acknowledges that God is present with you in it.
He is with you.
He will never leave you.
He will never abandon you.
He is at work in the reality you can't see...behind the reality you CAN see. Think of a microscope, and how it sees beyond the surface to the amazing world going on beyond what our natural eyes are able to see.
The lens of faith is the lens of trust. Today, choose to trust Him with your circumstance...even if you don't understand the "why" or "how" of it.
He is Emmanuel, God with us. And He is with you.
You can trust Him. Jesus says, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world." John 28:10
The second is the lens of Hope.
This is the lens that looks past the present and toward the future. It takes the long view, like binoculars would.
It sees a harbor, waaaay off in the distance....and tells you to keep on rowing.
This is the Romans 8:28 perspective that all things really WILL work together...some day, somehow, some way. And it will be good.
God will make all things right.
He is redeeming all things.
Restoring all things.
Wherever you are right now, remember that THIS IS NOT THE FINAL CHAPTER.
This is not the end.
The good stuff is yet to come.
Keep on going.
The third is the lens of Love.
This is the lens that, like a prism, takes and bends the light of God's love toward you, and sends it out in all directions, in a rainbow of magnificent colors.
This lens changes our words from "IF God really loved me," (this thing wouldn't have happened) to "BECAUSE God loves me..."
Because God loves me, I have strength for today.
Because God loves me, I am surrounded by people who care about me.
Because God loves me, this difficulty has not destroyed me.
Because God loves me, I'm still standing.
Because God loves me, I can freely love others.
God IS love, says 1 John 4:8. Just THINK about that for a minute! God is love.
Wherever you are, whatever you are facing...you are loved. You are being held by His loving arms.
He will not let you fall.
We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that when all the gifts pass away, there will always remain faith, hope, and love.
Yet how seldom we think about their significance and power!
Faith: God is present, here and now.
Hope: God is taking care of our future.
Love: Because He loves you, you are free–FREE–to let that love bend, reflect and refract out in all directions.
Choosing new lenses with which to look at our interruptions allows us to see the "God moments" that we wouldn't otherwise see.
And something else happens, too.
All that fear, anxiety and overwhelm?
They seem to fade into oblivion, just like when you take off your sunglasses in a 3D movie....and put the right glasses on.
All the beauty, the vividness, the brilliance, and the incredible pictures of God's love come to life, before our very eyes.
Same circumstance, new lenses.
But what a difference they make.