The prophet Jonah’s existence was interrupted by a call of God that would require a complete change of life. And it scared him enough to make him run in the opposite direction. Yet, what seemed to be an unnecessary and useless interruption was really an opportunity for Jonah to be involved in something the likes of which the Old Testament world had never seen before. This interruption was really a divine intervention and it held more adventure and possibility than he could have ever imagined. We, like Jonah, tend to run from interruptions. When major pains and minor problems cause a hiccup in our carefully calculated plans and goals we head in the opposite direction. Who knows what we might be missing by running from what could very well be God’s means of steering us toward the most magnificent outcome of our lives. Jonah could tell us a story or two. So could you. And so does popular conference speaker and author Priscilla Shirer in this personal account of opportunities lost and lessons learned—the amazing freedom and fulfillment that comes from going with God even when He’s going against your grain.

chapter one and now for something

completely different

for since the world began no ear has

heard and no eye has seen a god like you

who worked for those who wait for him

Isaiah chapter 64 verse 4 NLT I wish I’d

known then what I know now what the Lord

is helping me begin to discover maybe

then when those unexpected circumstances

surprised me I would have been better

able to corral my untamed unruly

emotions maybe then the twists of life

wouldn’t have caused such a twist in my

heart making me so severe and

unforgiving maybe then I would have

recognized God’s unseen hand in all of

it and would have met the frustration of

disappointment with a wink and a smirk

knowing he was behind it all that this

interruption was merely his way of

laying a foundation for better things

maybe then I wouldn’t have tried so hard

to control it or hurry through it but

would have yielded to it and embraced

with the Lord allowed maybe maybe not

but certainly not at the time you see my

life was going to be music literally the

first time I sang in church I was 5

years old

I’ve got concrete memories of my little

wobbly voice in knees that carried me

through that day from that moment on I

was sure God wanted me to be a singer I

planned for it aspired to it and dreamed

of what it would be like to stand on the

stage in the recording studio singing my

songs for him I even auditioned for

several nationally known singing groups

in my late teens and early 20s and was

thrilled when they said they’d actually

like me to come on board with them but

people I went to for counsel encouraged

me not to jump into music too soon and

pass up some other experiences that

might prove more valuable later by the

time I waited for all the obstacles to

clear those great music opportunities

had passed me by I

missed my chance the exciting open doors

that have been accessible to me before

were now closed I was devastated what

was I supposed to do now when the one

thing I’d wanted the path I thought was

God’s plan for me was no longer an

available option I wish I’d known then

what I know now music was apparently out

much to the dismay of my hopes and


so after batting around some

alternatives I decided to pursue a

degree in radio and television it seemed

to suit me if I couldn’t do the music

thing I could at least enjoy a stage

presence on camera television proved to

be an intense high-pressure undertaking

a lot of hard work but very exciting

especially when some jobs opened up for

me at several different stations

performing in various on-air capacities

with each new assignment I truly believe

this might be the platform that would

elevate me to bigger and better things

but each time I started working for a

particular show their ratings began to

suffer every single one was cancelled

within a year of my joining the team

talk about giving a girl a complex this

couldn’t be happening I had studied for

this I had put in the hours I was paying

my dues and was absolutely certain the

Lord had steered me toward doing this

for a career for a livelihood obviously

then I had heard him wrong or he had set

me up to fail what does a singer and

broadcast professional do when nothing

she feels called to is working out I was

barely my 20s and already feeling washed

up I wish I’d known then what I know now

meanwhile I was dating a young man a

wonderful guy who had captured my heart

and seemed like the one I wanted to

spend the rest of my life with we had

gotten pretty serious even beginning to

make those first sunny promises of

marriage but in one of those twists and

turns on the road to romantic bliss our

car had run off the road

we were done and I was totally

distressed I begged God to restore my

relationship with this man we were meant

to be together

I knew it but despite all the talks and

time spent together all the plans and

dreams we had begun imagining fact was

he didn’t want me anymore and it came

close to killing me I couldn’t sleep I

couldn’t eat I couldn’t see anything

good in store for me I was losing at

life and losing at love all at the same

time I wish I’d known then what I know

now there was somebody else for me years

later I was in love more on that later

and after three years of marriage

with little effort God allowed me to get

pregnant we were thrilled soon however

almost before the reality of baby makes

three had even begun to hit us I

miscarried well we had hardly been able

to keep our minds on anything else

because of our excited anticipation now

we could hardly keep our minds on

anything else because of our grief and

disappointment life interrupted again

how could this happen why would God

allow it did it mean we’d never be able

to have children could we possibly get

past this horrible experience and dare

to try again knowing how low the lows

can be when your joy is snatched away

yes we could yes we did first came

Jackson then two years later Jerry jr.

and when these fun little guys began

rounding the corner from toddlerhood to

the school-age years Jerry and I decided

we were closing up shop in the

baby-making business we both loved being

parents but were so looking forward to

life without diapers sippy cups and

colicky crying spells in the middle of

the night I was fairly certain I didn’t

have another pregnancy baby toddler

experience in me well yes

I did when those faint pink lines shaded

their way into a plus sign on the

pregnancy test I brought home from the

store Jerry’s and my plan for a new

phase of life suddenly became our plan

for an unexpected phase of life this was

not what we had in mind we have felt so

complete and satisfied with our two

little boys in our nice little life and

dare I say it we were shocked to realize

we were now headed in another direction

a six pound 12 ounce change of plans

by the name of Jude Maddox Shire and a

sweet and good-natured fellow as he is

the October he was born represented a

whole new chapter in our household an

unexpected one then in the midst of our

trying to adjust my emotions and plans

to suit this new development our stable

settled ministry began to experience

some growing pains of its own while my

pregnant waistline was expanding with no

regard for the content in my closet our

ministry seemed to be following suit

with a growing family to manage in a

full load of ministry responsibilities

to contend with already even before

having to think about adding a new baby

to the mix we were stunned to be thrust

into another realm of opportunity and

challenge our tiny staff of which my

husband and I made up 2/3 was already

stretched to the limit we were grateful

and excited of course about what we saw

God doing it’s just that we were caught

a bit off guard

we’ve been content with the regular pace

of family and ministry life as we known

it for several years we had learned how

to find our rhythm and balance but now

things were changing everything was

changing personally and professionally

so a lot of things had happened along

the way to alter my planned trajectory

of life a music ministry maybe not

television career maybe not that first

expectation of marriage first baby maybe


do you parent to kids let’s call it a

completed family

maybe not Lord how about at least an

easily managed ministry certainly not I

wish I knew then what I’m starting to

see now call it the interrupted life you

want me to what I suspect that you too

have experienced some interruptions

along the way it may have been something

tragic the death of someone close to you

a health scare a debilitating accident a

love lost an opportunity missed a life

goal unreached it may have caused such a

drastic change in your moods and makeup

in manner of living you almost don’t

remember who you were before it happened

in many ways you’ve become defined by

this thing that occurred this one

startling event but threw everything off

balance but interruptions are not

limited to huge horrible things in fact

they can be rather minor by comparison

car trouble

chicken pox a funny spoiled smell in the

meat you’d set out to cook for dinner

still it’s caught you by surprise you

weren’t expecting it you were travelling

along with your list of to do’s in mind

fully knowing what the day held when

something just crept out of nowhere and

caught you off guard suddenly your

schedule is shot to pieces along with

all your preset notions on what it would

take to get everything done

you’ve been blindsided forced to deal

with a new wrinkle a new obstacle to

navigate around interruptions they come

in all sizes large and small anywhere

between majorly challenging and mildly

inconvenient an unforeseen hit to your

family budget a best friend moving out

of town a spouse confessing that he

hasn’t been totally honest with you

about something a doctor’s report that

is less than desirable a pregnancy test

that reads negative again

a new supervisor at work who’s nothing

like the last one you grown to like so

much another year of singleness when

marriage is what you want a sister who’s

going in for surgery and needs you to

watch your kids for a few days it may

even be something good like being asked

to take on a new role in ministry or

finding out you have three babies in

that belly of yours instead of just one

yes that happened to a friend of mine

helping your daughter plan a summer

wedding or having to move to another

state to accommodate a promotion but

even these good interruptions are going

to take a lot of your time they’re going

to make things different then you’ve

been accustomed to they’re going to cost

you an expense you hadn’t accounted for

right now so how do you respond what’s

the best way to navigate the unexpected

a Life interrupted just to be clear I

hate interruptions while I’m a

spontaneous girl who enjoys impromptu

adventures and activities on occasion

whenever I get a goal or plan fixed in

my mind I’m as persistent as the little


i watch scouting for acorns in my

backyard this morning I don’t want to be

detoured until that nut is in my paws in

my mouth then mmm in my tummy any detour

away from that mission makes me antsy

and unsettled it’s the way I’ve always


stick-to-itiveness I think they call it

a good healthy trait but watch out one

that can quickly morph into one of my

worst when I’m not willing to bend and

flex to God’s will when I’m pretty sure

what he wants is different from my

aspiration that’s what I found myself

facing when little Jude was on the way

and I was trying desperately to figure

out how I’d be able to balance the

demands of a growing family

and ministry I loved my life but felt

stretched to the limit so I knew my

heart wasn’t exactly into this didn’t

God know that Jerry and I had spent lots

of time carefully crafting these plans

for our lives we’d given away all the

baby paraphernalia in our certainty that

our family was complete the crib was

gone the baby swing was gone the bouncy

seat was gone and lo and behold I had

some semblance of a waistline for the

first time in years both of our kids had

graduated out of toddlerhood and I had

mentally refocused myself onto a life

with two young boys who unlike when they

were babies could verbalize to me where

it hurt what was wrong and how I could

help so again I admit I was whining a

little bit complaining those first few

months of morning sickness were up let’s

just say I was not the kind of Priscilla

you’d want to be around it was not my

best moment I assure you especially as

our ministry was growing and we knew

we’d need to add to our staff if he

wanted any chance of keeping up we liked

it small and intimate the way it was but

it couldn’t stay that way any longer

obviously both of these things the new

baby and the growth and ministry were

gifts from God let’s be honest sometimes

God’s gifts are disguised beneath new

responsibilities one day in the midst of

my self-imposed pity party I got the

feeling God was asking me a question was

I going to be a whiner a complainer a

grumbler a martyr someone who wanted

everybody to feel sorry for for the rest

of her life even when there was really

nothing to feel sorry for me about was

this going to become my pattern for how

I handle things that didn’t go my way

was this the kind of person my husband

and family would need to get used to

living with or was I going to yield to

what God was calling me to do not just

physically with this pregnancy and the

additional needs in ministry but also in

my attitude my mind my heart my spirit

was I going to surrender myself

completely to him was I going to embrace

his plans for me turns out God was about

to send me another blessed interruption

not just dude my new little son but


pages of Jonah’s well-known book of the

Bible God began to speak a new word to

my heart even as I was wrestling with my

interrupted life God started showing me

some things through the eyes of a

runaway prophet a man who also was

interrupted from a life of relative

comfort a man who saw God’s change of

plans as something to be avoided and

escaped at all costs

a man who would eventually need a raging

sea storm and three days in a fish’s

belly before he would come to terms with

what surrender was all about and what it

could accomplish I didn’t want to be

like Jonah I didn’t want to require God

to reach into his bottom drawer of

disciplinary tactics before I came

around to his way of thinking as much as

I may not have planned to take on the

responsibility of a newborn baby again

not right at the moment at least or felt

we were prepared to take on the new

responsibilities that ministry growth

would undoubtedly require I really

didn’t want the responsibility of

becoming a person who thinks she knows

more than God does

I’ve seen that in myself before I saw in

Jonah again and I did not want to be

that kind of woman anymore honestly

knowing my track record with God and how

he shown himself strong in the face of

all my life interruptions I should have

handled this phase of my life

differently I was a bit disappointed in

myself because looking back I had a lot

to thank God for you see if I had joined

one of those singing groups in my

teenage years putting my life on hold

while chasing a dream God knew wasn’t

for me I would have probably continued

on that path long after I’d forgotten

that my first job in life was not to

sing for the Lord but to listen for his

direction and guidance I’m pretty sure

now that his plan for me all along was

to be involved in teaching ministry and

I’m just as sure that if I’ve been out

on the singing circuit I would have made

the journey back a much longer Road than

it was supposed to be in fact I might

never have gotten here at all

if only I’d known those years I spent

studying television and getting some

great on-air experience seems largely

wasted to me at one time but what I once

considered a pointless detour turned out

to be the ideal training ground for the

video driven Bible studies God knew I’d

be involved in later on if only I could

have seen it could have trusted him and

what if that relationship the one I’d

wanted to become my marriage had not

been interrupted like it was looking

back at it now I can see God’s hand

involved in turning me away from one man

and turning my heart toward another it

takes a certain kind of guy to handle

the life that our marriage in ministry

require had the first man decided to

marry me who knows we might have been

happy together but I’m sure now that he

wasn’t the one I really needed he wasn’t

tailored for me like Jarius ideal for

what God knew would be required of a

husband in a situation like ours

apart from accepting Christ as my savior

Jerry is the best decision I’ve ever


or better yet like my 17-year olds said

to me the other night daddy is the best

decision God ever made for you but I’m

telling you it was hard at the time I

didn’t want any piece of God’s will that

didn’t include this other man in it

and yet the wounds he’d left behind made

me appreciate all the more the healing

selves of Jerry’s perfectly suited

kindness and love for me I fell head

over heels into the romance of a

lifetime how I thank the Lord now for

unanswered prayers interruptions are

often his way of doing something even

better I wish I’d known that earlier

perhaps Jonah might have wished that too

he was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom

of Israel during the early part of the

eighth century BC and while we don’t

know much about his life prior to the

events recorded in the book that bears

his name we

dunno from 2nd Kings chapter 14 verse 25

the he had foretold some positive

developments for his people the Hebrews

during the reign of King Jeroboam ii the

nation witnessed a restoration of

territories that have been taken by

Syria this allowed Israel to achieve its

most prosperous era since Solomon

primarily allowing them to control most

of the important trade routes that ran

through Palestine connecting the far

reaches of the ancient world and Jonah

was the Prophet who had seen this coming

he had heard from the Lord declared the

details and been proven right

when these welcome events came to

fruition most likely therefore he was

popular highly respected and greatly

appreciated in his role handsomely paid

as well for the stature he enjoyed he

was living a prophets dream and he was

more than content for things to keep on

going the way they’d always gone the way

he had planned and fully expected they

would he was living for God doing his

work and doing it well why would God

ever send him to do something else if

only he’d known and yet Jonah great

prophet that he was couldn’t see any

more clearly than we usually can when we

try to understand why God would be

causing or allowing this interruption to

happen to us right now when the only

thing it’s doing is making us feel

frustrated and put out it’s the last

thing we want or seem to need and yet

God has let it happen anyway so I could

relate to Jonah as i sat there pregnant

with our unexpected third son and with

new required tasks in our ministry

reading again a story so familiar yet

one that God was opening to my eyes in a

fresh new way as I pondered what to do

with my resistant heart in its stubborn

streak I knew how it felt as Jonah did

to experience a clear word from God and

want to run in the opposite direction I

knew what it was like to watch

circumstances maneuvering around me in

such a way that God’s hand was

obviously on them drawing me to come

along asking me to trust him enough to

cooperate with his purposes but I also

knew the desire to rebel I knew what

goes through a person’s mind who was not

wanting to engage fully in the season of

life God is calling her into running

from God fighting against God’s clear

will Jonah certainly did in fact he was

the only prophet in the whole Bible who

ever did it’s always been easy to judge

him or look down on him one of the bad

boys of the Old Testament well it’s not

that simple for me looking down is hard

to do when you’re so near the bottom

yourself when emotionally you’ve got one

foot out the door and one hand on the

steering wheel was I going to let my

interruptions do to me what Jonah let

his do to him what will it be next

that’s the dilemma that brought me here

to this book to you wherever you happen

to be very personal stuff a very real

life just like yours I know we can

relate to what each other is dealing

with I know we share a common language

when it comes to understanding what

interruptions look like feel like sound

like scaris like bug is like we’ve all

had our lives altered and redirected

along the way we’ve all seen our plan

aids take a backseat to other realities

realities we just don’t want to accept

or live through yet here they are this

is our life we can run but we can’t hide

knowing what we know about God we do our

best to accept the fact that we wouldn’t

be having to put up with this stuff

right now if he didn’t want us to if he

wasn’t allowing it to happen for some

reason but that doesn’t always make it a

whole lot easier to handle does it I may

feel upbeat enough to follow along on

some day

but on others I’m ready to head for the

hills or perhaps just sit down and give

up we’ve all been Jonah before haven’t

we we’ve gotten irritated we’ve wanted

to duck out we’ve wished God would go

pick on someone else for a change so

something important is still missing

inside something is keeping us from

living out what we say we believe about

him that we can trust him even when we

don’t understand that he won’t lead us

astray that his will is more important

than ours

why do we still run from him and his

plans well I was hoping maybe we could

learn together the same way I learned

when God sat me down with Jonah when I

looked up from the middle of my life

interrupted and saw some things I wished

I’d known a long time ago I’m not all

the way there yet you understand but I

know I don’t want to let one more

interruption send me off frantically

dodging God’s will and missing out on

what he’s wanting to accomplish in me

and through me I want my life to radiate

what happens when God has a person’s

heart at his full control when every

event or circumstance is simply another

avenue to know him better in show forth

his glory that’s what the Book of Jonah

is really about it’s not just about the

big fish not just Jonah and the Whale

the main character in Jonah’s story is

God every single chapter in fact every

single verse speaks of the grandeur of

God the grace of God the sovereignty of

God the beckoning of God the discipline

of God everywhere you look in this tiny

piece of ancient historical literature

God is there he’s always there he is

right in the middle of every

interruption so if you’re feeling the

pinch of the interrupted life guess what

God is right here in the middle of

yours too even if it’s something you’ve

sort of brought on yourself as many of

mine have been this interruption

whatever it is no matter how big or

small represent your best chance to see

him take center stage to show you what

he can do when the unexpected only makes

you more expectant than ever like you

I’ve run from change I’ve run from

life’s surprises some times I’ve run

just to keep moving when I didn’t know

what else to do when I’ve run into a

problem because in running toward what

else I thought was better safer more

pleasurable more fulfilling less painful

less complicated or less confining

I’ve actually been running from God from

his will and from his blessing and I’m

tired of running aren’t you what if we

knew this interrupted life was less

about the problem and more about the

process what if we knew this roadblock

or aggravation hadn’t caught God by


even if it’s come as a shock to us what

if we knew that the direction he was

taking us provided opportunities we’d

always dreamed about even if they didn’t

look exactly the way we thought they

would what if we knew by not getting

what we want

God was ultimately giving us something

better I think we can know and live like

we know in Jonah’s place is a good place

to go to find out how