Our view of people reveals much about our view of God. Wrestling with this convicting thought recently uncovered a painful self-discovery: the ease with which I view people as interruptions, or even irrelevances to my day.
Yet, more often than not, the interruptions of my days are actually God’s invitations to engage Him through others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together,
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks. . . It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God’s “crooked yet straight path.”
Even though I ask the Lord’s help to be fully available and accessible, patient, and present to each and every person I meet, my plans and agenda often override my good intentions.
a better perspective on interruptions
What if we chose viewing interruptions as possibilities, perhaps through a lens of love?
Far from extreme, Bonhoeffer’s point is simplistic: as Christians, our number one priority remains to listen to God’s voice above all others. Yes, even our own.
Sadly, becoming deceived and self-absorbed at times, I turn a deaf ear to God’s voice, preferring my own counsel or agenda, touting my efficiency and time management for kingdom work.
Matt Perman, author of “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done” reminds us, “All productivity practices, all of our work, everything is given to us by God for the purpose of serving others”
Viewing my work or schedule in isolation of others, seeking to protect my time from interruption, is not only unloving, but it defeats God’s good purpose in work.
interruption as an invitation
Though unpleasant, frustration is an able teacher. Recently becoming frustrated with unplanned schedule changes both professionally and personally, I sought God’s help.
Swift in coming, the answer enigmatic at first, spoke volumes once I spent time meditating upon it.
It came in the form of Psalm 131.
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
God’s intent in speaking this psalm into my heart was initially beyond me. But as I continued bringing my frustration with interruptions to Him, my eyes opened to its truth.
A proud heart grips and seeks control, deluding itself with the idea of its own way being the best and only way, despising opposition. While haughty eyes represent a similar self-righteous focus/view of all pertaining to me is a priority above others.
Ultimately causing me to meddle in “great” matters and things above me, essentially none of my business in an effort to control outcomes and have my way.
However, the shift in perspective from interruptions to invitation comes when I forsake pride and control over things outside of my actual control, instead, calming myself and trusting God’s hand.
Finding the Invitation in the Interruption
Admittedly, all interruptions are not God’s invitations, but without a humble mindset and proper perspective on work or service, we lack the discernment to know one way or the other.
God desires we experience Him everywhere, in conversations, engagement with others, work and service. Far from a tool for developing patience, interruptions afford us opportunity to see true kingdom work beyond our self-appointed important tasks.
Using Psalm 131 as a guide, consider finding the invitation in the interruption.
- Root out Pride. Notice the motives behind your desires and agenda for your day. Is it more important that you accomplish your tasks at the expense of others? Must things be done your way, in your time, to obtain your outcome? (Psalm 131:1a)
- Release Control. Notice the things which are outside of your control or none of your business. Avoid meddling or manipulation to advance your agenda. (Psalm 131:1b)
- Regulate to Respond. A mature Christian self-regulates rather than flies off the handle in dismay when things go awry. A “weaned child” no longer fusses without mom, but self-soothes, trusting she will meet his needs. In the same way, a mature Christian rests in God’s faithfulness in the face of change without drama. (Psalm 131:2)
- Rest in God’s Hope. When confronted with an interruption or change, resting in the Hope we have in God, along with His past faithfulness, allows us to see Him in the situation and accept the invitation. (Psalm 131:3)
Following these steps moves us from reactionary negativity to responsive acceptance, all while releasing [perceived] control as we acknowledge God’s sovereign hand over our lives.
interruptions or invitations?
Viewing interruptions through a lens of love, positions us for obedience in kingdom work while opening our hearts to love God and love others well.
While every interruption may not materialize as a divine appointment, it transforms the way we see the world and God’s movements within it.
As we calmly view interruptions with humility, we experience God in ways we never have before, while embracing the invitation to partner more fully with Him in His kingdom work.
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