It has happened again: it appears that God wanted me to learn a lesson and therefore gave me three chances in the span of a week to grasp it. Last Tuesday, at the men’s Bible study that I participate in, we studied Titus 3 and came across this verse:
“Remind the people … to be ready to do whatever is good….” Titus 3:1
Then, in summer Sunday School we read the following passage:
“While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’” Mark 5:35
Finally, on Tuesday at vacation Bible school, we read from the Bible:
“While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’” Luke 8:49
In all three studies, which were teaching three diverse audiences, the lesson was the same: Do we see interruptions as annoyances or opportunities?
Are we ‘bothered’ when we are asked to forsake our schedules and do something good for someone else or do we rejoice when invited to participate in the plans of God? We have many conveniences that enable us to reduce, if not eliminate, most of the interruptions of life: caller ID and voicemail so that we need not take that call; ear buds and headphones so we need not listen to that conversation; and the ubiquity of cell phones and AAA so that we need not stop to help that stranded motorist. The concern I have, for myself, is that I am so self-centered that I am guilty of being ignorant or insensitive to the real needs all around me.
Frankly, I am not ready to do whatever is good. I do not have sufficient margins in my schedule to embrace interruptions. I do not have sufficient peripheral vision along my walk to recognize opportunities. I do not have sufficient spiritual reserves within me to invest in the life of one more person. I am not ready to serve like Jesus. Some Sundays, after a few hours or ministry, I feel like I need a nap and a good meal – a time to decompress and regain my bearings – before I am willing to go back out and face a hurting world.
It was not so with our Savior. According to Mark’s account of the events referred to above, Jesus spent the morning driving out demons and travelling across the Sea of Galilee. Upon disembarking from the boat, a large crowd surrounds him. Amidst the crowd is a man named Jairus, whose daughter is dying, and he requests the Lord’s assistance. [Just as an aside, at this point I’d have likely offered to visit later in the day, perhaps after the aforementioned nap and lunch.] Jesus immediately leaves with this hurting father. While He was travelling a woman in the vast crowd make her needs known and Jesus stops to comfort her. It is an account of interruption after interruption, all delaying the Lord’s basic human needs. He put our needs above His own all the time.
Perhaps there are things I could do to follow Christ more consistently. I could, like He modeled, get up early and get alone with God to recalibrate my internal guidance system. I could, like He modeled, put the real needs of others before the desires of myself. I could, like He modeled, allow those around me to dictate the path I travel to the places God wants me to go. Perhaps, in so doing, I might see these draining interruptions as divine appointments. If so, I need to get ready.