One of the greatest life skills that I have acquired from being a pastor is the ability, if you can call it that, of allowing and even welcoming interruptions.
Sometimes in the midst of a busy schedule (usually on the most hectic days) your attention will be demanded away from your carefully planned schedule. These interruptions almost always demand that you slowdown to be more deliberate, more prayerful. They almost always demand little in the way of words or action but rather they require that you just be fully present.
A friend once told me that interruptions are what ministry is made of. After all, Jesus entire life and ministry was composed of interruptions. Over and over again, people seemed to interrupt Jesus’ day. He was on his way to the house of Jairus when the hemorrhaging woman touched the hem of his garment. In the midst of his busy day, this woman interrupts his busy schedule. Jesus’ compassionate response: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
The disciples certainly understood the demands of Jesus’ ministry. They tried to protect him from more interruptions by telling the crowds not to bring the children to him (Matthew 19). Jesus’ loving response to this interruption: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
One of the best interruptions recorded in scripture was when Jesus decided to interrupt two men walking on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion (Luke 24). In the middle of their suffering and grief, Jesus appears to them bringing back hope with the good news of his resurrection. We must remember that sometimes interruptions are actually Divine appointments with our Creator!
For myself, today’s interruptions came in two forms; one from my daughter who asked me to have lunch with her as she talked about dreams of college life. The second interruption came in the form of the need to sit and hold the hand of an elderly woman in the hospital as she slept. As she slept: I prayed, I listened and I dreamed. I have learned that interruptions are the best part of life. No, I will not accomplish everything on my to do list. The charge conference forms, confirmation schedule and sermon will have to wait. God will always give me more than enough time for the necessary parts of life.
We must learn to thank God for interruptions. Interruptions are the holy moments when we are most fully aware of God’s presence. My prayer for each of you reading this today is that God will bless you with a day full of holy interruptions. Take the time to hold a hand, lend an ear, shed a tear, or simply laugh out loud. Take the time to be absolutely and fully present with God and at least one other human being today and every day.
White is a pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church