Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Embracing Interruption - What I Learned from Andy

Hi Friends,

In honor of my newest book, SHADES OF MORNING, releasing next Tuesday (whoo hoo!), I wanted to share with you the story that birthed the book and how Andy taught me the joy of EMBRACING INETERRUPTION. Emmit in Shades of Morning is based on Andy.

It happened like this:

It was an ordinary Sunday morning. I didn’t expect to see anything different, or special, or extraordinary. I figured I’d come to church, sing the songs, shake some hands, listen to the sermon. And that would be that. Nothing unusual.

Or so I thought.

But God had other plans. And so did Andy.

It started off as expected. I walked into church and sat down in my usual seat, halfway back from the front and on the right side of the church platform. Soon, as usual, the singing began. Then some announcements. As usual. Then another song. Just like always. Soon, we came to the third song in the worship set. Something about our God of wonders. I sang quietly, as I do every Sunday, because my husband tells me I can’t carry a tune. I didn’t want to disturb the other worshippers. Everything was going so smoothly. So . . . normally.

The second verse flipped onto the screen in front. Everyone sang just like they were supposed to. Everyone clapped at the right moment, in time with the music. And a few people even swayed at bit in their seats. Just as planned.

Until Andy.

At the third verse, a noise came from the far side of the church. A loud noise. Strange and unexpected - an unplanned interruption in the sweet melody of music. And then, it grew louder. I furrowed my brow. Was that someone singing . . . badly?

I stood on tiptoes and peeked toward the sound.

And there was Andy. His arms were raised. His eyes were closed. And he was singing to his God for all he was worth. Andy, in his middle teens, with blond hair, thick glasses, and small ears. Andy, with Down syndrome, and a grin on his face big enough for the angels to see. Andy, shout-singing with all his might through that radiant smile.

As I watched and listened, I had to smile too. A small smile at first. Then, like Andy’s singing, my smile grew. And grew. And grew. Until the angels could see my smile too. Because at that moment, I knew I was seeing something precious, beautiful, incredible. I was getting a glimpse of something far beyond the ordinary. Something fit for heaven itself.

For a brief instant, the music faltered, the other voices hushed just a bit. And then the guitar strummed again, the congregation’s voices surged, and I knew that some, at least, had seen what I had. They’d witnessed the wonder, beheld the beauty, of a soul in love with his God. An extraordinary moment that interrupted the expected plan.

That image of Andy’s interruption has stayed with me over the months and years since. It reminds me that life’s disruptions and potentially awkward moments are not things to be feared, but are opportunities to glorify God in unexpected ways. They are chances to declare my love for Him, even if I am a bit off-key.

Since witnessing Andy that Sunday, I’ve decided I want to be more like Jesus on his way to heal Jairus’ daughter in Mathew 9. Jesus wasn’t too busy doing the expected to recognize the beauty of an interruption – a woman who had been bleeding for twelve long years. She came up behind him, touched his cloak, and was healed. He need not have stopped and turned. She was already healed. But he did stop. He saw. He spoke. And God was glorified through a love and mercy that went beyond physical healing. All because Jesus knew how to embrace interruption.

Like him, I, too, need to be open to the opportunities in the disruptions of life. I need to see that sometimes the unexpected is a gift of wonder. Sometimes, what seems like a loud, awkward noise is really a beautiful melody in the ears of our God.

Sometimes, I need to be like Andy.


Marcus Goodyear said...

Marlo, I've had experiences like this. And it always reminds me not to take pride in the gifts I offer to God. From his perspective, there probably isn't much difference between Andy's shout-singing, some tone deaf singing, a worship leader, and Pavarotti.

It reminds me not to look down on some, idolize others, or otherwise think of our human distinctions as being worth more than they are.

Congrats on the book coming out!

Marlo Schalesky said...

Great insight, Marcus! Thanks for sharing!

Meghan W said...

Love this - thank you for sharing :) I wish we all could get past our embarassment and inhibitions and people-pleasing and just pour out to Him like Andy... what a beautiful reminder!

Marlo Schalesky said...

Thanks, Meghan! Great thought!