Interruptions?

I had an assignment last night. Our Bible study didn’t meet. We were told to pray about how to spend that time and to do whatever we felt God was asking us to do. For me that became a plan to turn everything off and spend time alone studying with God.

The book I had chosen was Crazy Love by Francis Chan. The book is about truly loving God in a way that may seem completely insane to others—especially those in the typical American church. One of the things the author talks about is reaching out and really loving others.

So, I’m getting ready for my time with God. I’ve turned off the TV and I have the internet connected so the house phone won’t ring. I was literally reaching for my cell phone to set it to silent when it rang. I debated about answering it, when I noticed who was calling. It was a young woman who has been going through a difficult time in her family. I knew I’d answer that call.

It would have been the height of irony to sit and read about reaching out to others in love while ignoring a call from a young woman in pain. That call wasn’t an interruption. It was an opportunity to care.

If I’d missed the call because I’d already set the phone to silent and begun my time of study, I wouldn’t have felt bad. After all, I had no reason to expect that she might call. Most of my cell phone calls are business related, and I didn’t want business to interfere with my time with the Lord. God doesn’t ask me to know when one of His interruptions is coming. He just asks me to respond when they happen.

So, back to my point—sometimes an interruption is really an opportunity to love someone in Jesus’ name. I’m one of those list people. I plan my day and have a list of things to accomplish and a timeline in which to do them. It took a lot of work for me to learn to embrace interruptions as God’s way of re-arranging my schedule. I had to learn that comforting a friend or helping a stranger is more important than my schedule.

Yes, I need to be on time for work and various appointments. What I don’t have to do is finish addressing Christmas cards tonight. It can be difficult to refocus my attention from my to do list to the person who needs a hand carrying something to her car, but it’s so very worth it.

It’s much easier for most of us to accept those interrupts from that hurting friend than from a stranger. Friends are one of us. Strangers are one of them. Those strangers, though, are just as important to God as any of our friends.

Most days I include in my prayers a request that God will help me to be very aware of anything He’s adding to my schedule. I want to be sure to recognize even the most subtle signs that I have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. I want to know the difference between an interruption and an opportunity.

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