Chapel talk interrupts this life for a special message
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Pardon the interruption. Such a polite term, filled with dignity and decorum, meant to soothe any possible hurt feelings in a social situation that could be considered rude.
Writer/speaker Nicole Cottrell, a self-described rebel, button-pusher and boat-rocker growing up, used her Chapel talk Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena to proclaim that some interruptions — God’s interruptions — aren’t always going to seem so polite. But they’re necessary.
She talked about how Christ was the “Great Interrupter” and how He interrupts our lives for reasons that we might not understand but that we must trust. In a sense, she interrupted anyone who might have thought otherwise.
“He came to interrupt everything we’ve ever seen and experienced,” she said. “He interrupted social norms. He interrupted religious tradition. He interrupted popular culture. He interrupted history. Once He died and rose again, nothing ever was the same on the earth, and nothing ever will be. … He’s inviting us to be interrupters with Him.”
Cottrell’s jumping-off point was a documentary called “The Interrupters,” about a group of former gang members who sought to reduce violence in Chicago by stepping in between rival gangs. That’s hardly a comfortable undertaking, but they’re able to pull it off because they have “street cred.”
“You know who has a lot of street cred?” she asked. “Jesus.”
Her Biblical reference was Mark 3:1-6, in which Christ healed a man with what was called a “withered hand” — but did so on the Sabbath right in the middle of the synagogue, which violated the religious traditions in an era when even putting ointment on a cut on the Sabbath was considered sinful.
“He just takes their law and flips it on its head, and they do not like it,” she said. “… He is interrupting their religious tradition. He is interrupting the social norms.”
“God doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t enable us and empower us to do.”
But with good reason, Cottrell pointed out. He was doing good rather than simply going along with their rules.
“Jesus interrupted this man’s life,” she said. “He said, ‘Come here. Stop what you’re doing. Come here, stand right here in front of everyone. And then He commanded this man to do something that was physically impossible for him to do. He said, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ This man was not able to stretch out his hand. And yet Scripture says he stretched out his hand. Whaaat? What happened?
“Here’s what I think: I think that when God interrupts our lives, He asks us to do something impossible. He asks us to do something hard, something uncomfortable, something painful. When we choose to act with faith and obedience, we don’t object and we don’t try to interrupt Him, then He responds on our behalf and He enables us to do what He wants to do.”
Cottrell emphasized that Christ helped the man stretch out his hand, just as He meets us halfway when He asks us to do something.
“That is powerful,” she said. “That encourages me. … God doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t enable us and empower us to do.”
Cottrell said she felt compelled by God to share with her audience some medical issues she has had, two years of nearly constant pain, and she admitted she got mad at the Lord for this interruption in her life. But when she prayed, she said she kept hearing one phrase: “Be assured of My love for you.”
She urged students to be equally assured of that love and to help GCU continue to be a beacon of light that seeks to make the community and the world a better place.
“This campus is an anomaly in the state of Arizona, let alone in the United States — I’m hope you guys really do know that; I’m sure you do,” she said. “You have such a powerful opportunity to be interrupters of the culture, to be interrupters of the status quo. … And I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited.”
● For a replay of Cottrell’s talk, click here.
● Next week’s Chapel speaker: Chris Brown, North Coast Church
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.