Mark 5: 21,22,24; II Corinthians 8: 10, 11
Living the interruptions
What if we were judged by the interruptions in our lives? Isn’t that a novel concept? What if we were asked to write a resume, we would not have to give our academic, social or work accomplishments, but we would write down our interruptions. We might write: on the 15th of April 2004 I was in the middle of completing a task I had been working on for two years and someone called. I listened to them and as a result was set back so far that I missed an important deadline. “ And the interviewer would ask: “What gave you the strength and what prepared you to embrace that interruption?” Silly isn’t it? W. Edwards Deming wrote: “The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with their work.” In other words interruptions translate into lost productivity. Interruptions are a nuisance to us. They are about as welcome as the hours per month we spent waiting at traffic lights. Some interruptions are particularly tragic. When President Wilson, whom Theodore Roosevelt called “that moralistic Presbyterian” near the end of World War I pushed hard for the League of Nations to avoid more war, his opponents in congress led by Henry Cabot Lodge fought back and thwarted it. The establishment of the United Nations thirty years later under the leadership of Roosevelt’s niece Eleanor ironically was preceded by the tragic interruption of that thing we know as World War II. But, friends, interruptions are also an integral part of our lives. We deal with it. Sometimes we get sarcastic, like in this your e-card: “I’m sorry, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours (2x).” Brian Spellman in the Cartoonist Book Camp writes: “First let me finish, then interrupt.” Michael Foley, The Age Of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes It Hard To Be Happy describes the situation well “Being constantly the hub of a network of potential interruptions provides the excitement and importance of crisis management. As well as the false sense of efficiency in multitasking, there is the false sense of urgency in multi-interrupt processing.” Race care driver Mario Andretti has the following famous quote contributed to him: “Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.”
In the Gospel of Mark Jesus is surrounded by desperate people all clamoring for healing and help. It must have been overwhelming. Yet never in the Gospels do we get a sense that Jesus has a schedule He goes by. It is almost as if He lived a series of interruptions. His professional resume as we know it is powerful, but also very short. Life happened to him, was almost forced on him. “Marcia Lebhar said:“If you had slept in the same house or field with Jesus, awakened with him, eaten with him and helped him, what would you have observed? One thing we always think of is that Jesus gave himself almost entirely to what we would consider interruptions. Most of the teaching, healing and wonders we see in his life were responsive…seemingly unplanned. He trusted that what the Father allowed to cross his path was exactly that…from the Father. Jesus always seemed willing for things to get messy.”
Friends, interruptions can be grace-filled. I have mentioned a few earlier. They can be providential. Sometimes they can be what it’s all about. Sometimes we need to get knocked off the straight road to our goal and get realigned, because perhaps our wheels aren’t quite pointed straight.
C.S. Lewis ( The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis) The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
Okay I know, we are never going to write resumes listing the interruptions to our goals. But I believe the point has been made. Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians urges the people to go and achieve the ministry goal they have been working on for years. His words are echoed by the John C. Maxwell:”One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of our details and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.”
Friends, I have peppered you with quotes just now, but as I researched the topic the lectionary readings presented to me, I felt that today these people could say a lot of things better than me. May it be food for thought for you. May we not lose sight of our goals and may be also live the interruptions mindfully, for every moment of our lives is important to God and every minute of our lives has the potential of being transformative in the greater picture of God’s purpose and of human existence on this fragile planet. May God bless our efforts!