Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I am not a fan of interruptions. When I have a plan for how my day is going to go, and some person suddenly decides it's the perfect time to need something from me, I often respond grudgingly at best. I'm not sure it matters whether the plan involves work or rest--it's the fact that my plans must be waylaid in order to serve someone else. Like right now, as I'm sitting down to type this and my daughter thinks that's a great time to dump out the crayons all over the floor and feed them to the dog... excuse me while I interrupt this blog post to go clean up.

Aaaaand... we're back! As I was saying--now that the crayon-dumping munchkin is safely behind the bars of her crib--I am not a fan of interruptions. But we've been talking a lot about building community lately, and a rather necessary part of building true community is being willing to put your plans on hold to meet needs and serve others around you, even when it seems very inconvenient. It's a rather essential part of being able to truly love others, when we can put aside our own desires--without irritability--to care for them. As the Sara Groves song goes: "Love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say, 'I've got something better to do.'" It's essential for marriage; it's essential for parenthood; it's essential for fellow members of Christ's body; it's essential for our ability to love and serve the unbelievers around us.

And it's very hard. We are selfish creatures who would really rather get that one more thing done, or just have some peace and quiet to read a good book after a busy week, even if someone beside us is drowning.

But this is not so much a post about the how much I hate to be interrupted. It's more about a discovery I made this week as I was reading through Mark's Gospel.

Jesus got interrupted.

Maybe you've been aware of that fact for a while. But until this week, I think I've always had this idea in my head that as fully God, Jesus couldn't possibly know what it's like to be interrupted, because he always would have known what was coming. Apparently, not so. We don't understand all the ins-and-outs of how Jesus existed as fully God and fully man at the same time, but I've come across a few places now where Jesus plans one thing, and quite another happens. Take the feeding of the 5,000. It's a story we all know, but I had never before noticed the context of this miracle. This was the plan: The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mothers, can I get a witness?!) And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.

So Jesus knows they all need a good meal and a nap, and he makes it happen, right? Um, well, actually, it looks more like this: Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:30-35). And the people are hungry, so he goes on to have his disciples--those guys who so badly needed to rest--distribute bread and fish to thousands of people, and oversee the clean-up afterwards! (Can you imagine the WORK?)

Jesus knows what it's like to have your plans changed on you. Jesus understands the temptation to go right on with your own plan, to say, "Come on, people! Haven't I served you enough lately? Go away and let me sleep!" He sympathizes because he's gone off for some time alone, hoping no one would notice him, and been interrupted by some foreign woman who won't leave off begging him to heal her demon-possessed daughter (Mark 7:24-25). When I want a little peace and quiet to write, and instead I have to go clean up someone else's crayon mess, I'm not facing something that Jesus never knew. There really is no temptation that is not common to man, Jesus included!

Yes, rest is good and needed. After all those 5,000+ people have full bellies and good teaching, Jesus does dismiss his disciples and go spend some quiet time alone in prayer. But there is also a place to set aside the necessities, to get a little less to eat for dinner because your neighbour dropped by at the last minute and you set an extra place at the table. There is a place to forego the nap, or the neatly folded laundry, or the "family only" movie night in order to show the love of Christ to another.

Somehow, the knowledge that Jesus has been right there with me in the interruption, has felt the inconvenience himself, gives me extra grace to push on through and serve others when I'd rather serve myself. After all, when he was faced with the temptation to run away and hide in the closet (or bathroom, or pick your place of secrecy), he had a stronger emotion that overcame the temptation: compassion. He saw the people around him, and they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he loved them. I am those people. You are those people. We were like sheep without a shepherd, and out of compassion for his lost sheep, he interrupted endless ages of being worshipped in splendour and enjoying all heaven's glories to come to this dirty, sin-filled earth to know hunger, and fatigue, and need, and to rescue his lost sheep from their shepherdless wandering. If Jesus did that, if he subjected himself to such an interruption, how can I not put aside my own pleasures and desires to serve his sheep, both those who are already found, and those who are yet lost? Indeed, Jesus subjected himself to such an interruption so that we might be given his perfect record of compassionate service, and so that we might receive the Holy Spirit who empowers us to joyfully set aside our plans and instead be a conduit of his compassionate love to others!

I'm not a fan of interruptions, but maybe I need to be, because interruptions are an opportunity to know the love of the Jesus who was interrupted for me.

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