For the past couple of months, I have been having this thought. What if many of those really inconvenient interruptions in our lives are actually the purpose of our day?
I heard this story a while ago at church from a young girl who goes to our church. It is really quite an incredible story, but it also got me thinking about how much I miss in my day to day life because of being busy with the ultimately less important things.
This young girl worked at a grocery store and was looking forward to her break time and the opportunity to sit for a moment and eat her lunch. As she was sitting there she felt God speak to her, “Go to the bathroom.” She sat there for a moment and argued, “But God, I really want to eat my sandwich. It’s my BREAK time. Plus, I don’t HAVE to go to the bathroom. I just want to sit for a moment.” She continued eating, but then again she heard, “Go to the bathroom.” “Alright, alright, I’ll go to the bathroom,” she thought. Slightly annoyed she got up and left her half-eaten lunch. When she got to the hall near the bathroom, she found a woman with small children, her bags of groceries around her with tears streaming down her face. Immediately she knew that this was why she had been sent to the bathroom. She sat down next to the woman and asked her her story. Through her tears, the young woman began to explain that her husband had recently passed away and this was her first trip out. She had thought she was ready, but found the little trip had been too much for her grieving heart to handle. This girl was able to tell this broken young woman that God saw and He knew her pain. Think of how this lady was able to see God’s love toward her! This young girl didn’t just happen upon her, but God had interrupted lunch to show His heart for the young widow and her children.
I often hear and have heard through my life, “God is preparing me for the next step.” “The next thing is right around the corner.” etc, etc, etc. I’m not saying this is not true, but I think that sometimes our focus is so far in the future or so far in the past, we forget that God has a purpose for THIS day. The one we are in right this minute. We get so busy looking at every day but today, we end up wasting the one we’re in. We say things like, “When I have kids…”, “When my kids are grown…”, “When my kids are in school…”, “When I get a new job…”, “When I finish Bible school….”, “When I finish college…”, “When I get married…”, “When I move overseas…” and so many other ‘When I’s.’ Here’s the thing though, we can squander our days on the ‘when I’s’ and completely miss what God is wanting to do today. Sometimes we can be so caught up in what we’re doing and our agenda for the day that we are blind to some of the interruptions that are actually God’s purpose for our day. Some interruptions happen to us and other ones God is asking us for obedience like the story of the young girl from our church who God sent to the bathroom.
When I was thinking about the interruptions in our day, I realized that most of them involve people on some level. All interruptions – from a dirty diaper at an inopportune time, to a slow check out line, to a car accident, to an untimely death – are inconvenient at best and tragic at worst, but they all require us to step out of our preplanned agenda. All of these opportunities present us with an opportunity to choose a person over task and to choose to love them. We ALL have these opportunities every. single. day. I don’t think that there are many of us who are not around people every day. Whether we are stay at home moms, executives at a business, a sales clerk or a missionary, there are people around us every day that God wants to show His heart to through us.
A man once asked Jesus what the most important commandment is. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.” We cannot forget the ‘love God’ part. We can not truly love people unless we have God’s perfect love in us for them. He knows exactly what people need all of the time whether it’s our children, our spouse, our friend, a co-worker, a neighbor or a stranger. We must be in communication with Him to have His heart for the different people we are around every day.
A couple of months ago, I was reading through the Gospels and do you know what jumped out at me? Most of Jesus’ big ministry moments were actually interruptions to what He was doing! He was on His way somewhere and ran into the woman at the well. The children were clearly interrupting Him while He was teaching because the disciples tried to send them away, but He rebuked the disciples. He was walking through a crowd and a woman desperate for healing touched Him. He didn’t need to stop, but He did. While trying to get away for a quick moment to pray, the crowd followed Him and He had compassion on them. When He was being arrested, He healed an ear. He was in a perfect Heaven and came down to an imperfect earth to save mankind. He was dying and ministered to the thief on the Cross. Jesus’ agenda WAS listening to His Father and ministering to people. Sometimes we think that ministry and purpose are tied up in the big huge moments, but I think that God has called us to live THIS day loving Him and loving people. If our days are lived this way, we WILL fulfill our purpose.
What if we began our days asking God to help us to be sensitive to Him and give us His heart for those around Him? I’m not trying to oversimplify things. It’s hard to give up our agendas and the things WE want to do. It’s hard to give when we are tired, grumpy and feel like we have nothing to give. It’s hard to love when people are being rude. It’s hard to enter into someone’s world when they are consumed with grief. It’s hard to lovingly confront someone. It’s hard to resolve another sibling conflict with kind words when it’s the twentieth that day. It’s hard to give up our lunch break. On the other hand, what a privilege we have to walk in God’s grace for us and also extend His grace to the hearts, broken by sin, life and pain, that need to see Him. What a privilege to offer a kind word to a hurting, resltless or lost heart! We are ambassadors for the living God. We need to slow down and listen to Him and get HIS plan for our day. My prayer has been that I would allow God to interrupt my day and that instead of reacting with irritation to the interruptions, I would have His heart for the people around me. This involves dying to what WE want and how WE want the day to go and keeping our eyes on the greater purpose – knowing Him and making Him known. We ultimately love people when we point them to Him and allow Him to reveal His heart through us. Let’s embrace the interruptions and ask God for His eyes for our day.