But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” –Luke 10:29 NIV
It was a typically busy day at my house. I had spent the morning playing with my grandchildren so my daughter could take her youngest to a doctor appointment. I’d made lunch for my schoolteacher husband who was home for the summer. I’d done the dishes. I was in my home office working on Sweet Selah Ministries tasks, quite happily focused on my writing. “Finally,” I thought. “Now I can get down to work.” My husband popped his head in the door. “Want to go for a walk?”
Hoo boy. Did I want to go for a walk? Well, yes and no. At that moment I wanted to finish my work. However, I knew that, long term, going for a walk with my honey would be the greater blessing for both of us. So, off we went.
Interruptions! Sometimes, it’s super hard to decide what to do. We all have them. How should we handle them? Let’s look at Jesus as our example and then at some examples that are typical for us.
I can think of at least seven times when Jesus was interrupted:
- On His way to heal Jairus’ daughter (who was dying, by the way) Jesus stopped to help a woman with a bleeding disorder and spoke kindly and unhurriedly to her after her healing (Mark 5).
- After a particularly busy time, Jesus took His disciples away to be alone, only to be greeted by yet another mob at the “deserted” place in which they’d hoped to rest. He greeted that crowd with compassion (Mark 6).
- When His disciples told mothers that Jesus was too busy to see their children, He rebuked the disciples and held the children, blessing them (Mark 10).
- When people tried to shush Bartimaeus, the blind man, Jesus stopped them and stopped Himself, giving his time freely to heal Bartimaeus (Mark 10).
- When asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus told a story of a man beaten and left for dead on a road. Although busy and important people passed on by, Jesus celebrated the foreigner who interrupted his day to care for a man he did not even know (Luke 10).
- Zacchaeus was just trying to get a better look at Jesus when he climbed that tree, but as Jesus passed by, He noticed him and invited Himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19).
- Jesus was in excruciating pain, literally saving the entire world, when the thief on the cross spoke to Him. And Jesus spoke back, promising this dying man entrance into the kingdom of God (Luke 23).
Yikes. Each time someone unexpectedly crossed Jesus’ path, He stopped. Interruptions were treated as part of His mission for the day. Because they were. And if we give our days each morning into God’s good hands, surrendering our agendas and receiving His, we can trust that those who unexpectedly cross our path are there for a purpose.
This is hard for me. I like my plans. I have good plans. My plans are actually quite holy, I say to myself. I want to share with others how important it is to spend time with God. However, if that wonderful and only true God I serve chooses to allow an interruption? I’d better stop and deal with it, right? I’ve found that He really does protect me from interruptions when I need to focus. I’ve also found that when I’m faithful to welcome the person who’s interrupting me, a blessing follows—and miraculously I still have time to do the other things that need doing. Don’t ask me how because I couldn’t tell you. There just is.
You see, I need to grow in trust. I need to truly believe that God orders my day, and I need to welcome His plans as my true mission for the day. I have a long way to go in this process, and I freely confess to you that I can be mighty crabby about interruptions. But I’m learning to watch for what is actively brought into my path each day and embracing it as my mission from the hand of God.
Here are seven examples from my own life of typical interruptions that, when I’ve stopped to show compassion, have yielded good fruit.
- When I’m on a quick stop at the grocery store and see someone I know who clearly wants to talk. I’ve learned a whole lot about my neighbors and friends by taking the time to listen and often praying for them based on a short, poignant grocery store conversation I never planned to have.
- This past year, my grandchildren interrupted … a lot. Ha! But you know what? Each interruption built in them sweet memories of a Nina who was not too busy for them. Questions were answered. Hugs were given. Important little discussions about Jesus and love and family took place. All because I gave them my time. I look back on this year with them and have no regrets that I stopped to be with them.
- That waitress who wanted to talk to me when I was on a Sweet Selah Day. There I was trying to journal and read the Bible and be alone and there she was a bit bored and clearly needing a listening ear. It was a precious, precious conversation, and I was able to share my faith with her. I do believe God had a purpose in that interruption. She was “in my path” at that moment.
- Those many times when Dad Gamble lived with us and wanted to tell me a story he had already told me. Again. No regrets for stopping, listening, and letting go of my agenda for a few more minutes. I smile remembering those days and shake my head in wonder. What I found irritating and exhausting at the time is now a wonderful memory. I’m glad I listened.
- Those days when a little white puppy comes to me with soulful eyes, toy in her mouth, and I realize that I have paid her no attention all day. God tells us to look after our animals (Proverbs 12:10). So, when I take a few minutes and throw her toy across the floor instead of pursuing what’s important to me, I do believe God smiles. And, after the initial irritation, so do I.
- When a friend at church wants to share a burden with me, and I know it will mean that I won’t have a chance to touch base with someone else I’d been wanting to see, I need to give the one who has crossed my path my whole attention, listening, loving, and encouraging … letting go of my own agenda.
- That walk with my husband? Oh, how valuable it was. Each time he and I walk together, we have precious moments alone to process our days and hear each other’s hearts. He’s my one and only life mate after all. The days go by so fast. I will never regret walking with him.
This is the way of love. Sacrifice. Seeing my time as His time. Truly believing that if I put the day in His hands, asking Him to protect me from interruptions that are not of His design, I can trust that each person who is on my path is a God-designed interruption for a better purpose than my own. Just like that wounded man was on the path of the Samaritan. The interruption is actually God’s mission at that moment in time.
Father in Heaven, thank You for the amazing example Jesus set for us on earth as He lived out Your will each day—and not His own. Lord, I yield this day to You. Protect me, please, from all interruptions except the ones You have chosen for me. Give me a heart that wants Your will above my own. Help me trust that You know the work You have given me, and You will give me adequate time to accomplish it. Oh, Lord, help me to see those who need a word from me that will point them to You this day. Give me Your kind of love, Lord. On my own, I cannot love like this. Thank You that You always, always stop and listen to me, Lord. You are never too busy. I love You! Amen.
You are loved,
Sweet Selah Ministries
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