"Finding new life through unwanted change." The book's subtitle promises hope, and the notion of God interrupting isn't meant as blaming Him for the pain we experience. I think the idea is that God interrupts the pain and disappointment.
The introduction begins this way: "We just keep losing things: wives, husbands, friends, health, the dreams and security of the past." (p. 9) When God Interrupts calls these losses abandonment, and challenges readers to accept them as "the opportunity to discover a new life." (p. 10)
The premise is that if we'll allow it, Jesus will fill the empty places and our end, while not what we had hoped or planned, will be richer. The author calls these choices "conversion" – the same word we use for our initial turning to Christ.
The author looks at different forms of abandonment: death, disappointment, infertility, discovering our head-based religion isn't enough, business failure, illness, divorce/family rejection, and even the sense of being abandoned by God.
In each case the message is to let go of our expectations, hopes, dreams... our perceived rights. And to ask God what He wants to do with the pieces.
This is an encouraging book filled with examples of ordinary people who have chosen to grow closer to God when life falls apart. It's one of those "keeper" books to read again throughout one's life. A book to buy for a friend.
A little over six years ago I started to experience as series of very disturbing "interruptions" in a life that I thought had progressed nicely up until that point. Little did I know that M. Craig Barnes had just published a book that would help me greatly in making some sense of it all. I'm glad to have found it. Any Christian who has suffered a huge interruption in the life that he or she has expected to live will benefit from this book. Like it or not, most of us will be abandoned by many things we value in this life. Even the best things we have our only ours for a time. We stand to lose our material wealth, our health, our livelihood, people we love, and finally our very lives as such. Dealing with this grim reality requires a choice of perspective. We can devote our life's energies to trying to preserve our lives as we want, or hope, them to be. The fear of losing our self-made lives will rule our lives. Inevitably, loss will come. How will you take that loss? If the meaning you find in your life depends on your ability to keep it the way you want it, then the loss may come pretty hard. Alternatively, M. Craig Barnes presents a perspective based on Bible lessons and people's stories which can help us to see and appreciate the sum of our lives as an unearned gift from God. Gaining this perspective requires a conversion process that goes beyond mental assent to certain doctrines or simple belief. It is when we are abandoned by things we hold most dear that the test of faith comes. Is it real, or is it mostly dependent on our having our lives the way we want them to be? Most of us will have more than one opportunity in our lives to find out. The good news is that, even if we can't have the life we wanted, God can show us a way to want the life we have. Sounds risky (and it is). But, no matter how much we have in this life, we will lose it all some day. Learning how not to worry about losing what we think we depend upon for our peace and security could be a long, uncomfortable process. But if being so focused on "saving" the kind of life we want is making us blind and ignorant to the better kind of life that God wants for us, then it is a risk worth taking. This is not to say that it's good to throw the nice things we have in life away. But I would like to be the kind of person who can lose those things when the time comes without too much regret and also use them (while I have them) to bless others in God's name. This can only happen if I truly believe that my life is the product not of my own will and struggle, but of an intimate and everlasting relationship with God. This book is a good elaboration on what Jesus means by losing our life when we try to save it and finding it when we lose it for His sake (Matt. 16:25) and what it means to find the pearl of great value (Matt. 13:45). As Barnes says at the end of his book, "People who have a God do not need to become one". This book will help you break the habit of trying to be your own life's savior and enjoy letting God do that for you. If you read this book and want more, I would also recommend Philip Yancey's books "Disappointment With God" and "Reaching for the Invisible God". But don't pass this one up for those. I read this after Yancey's books and gained many valuable insights.