January 3, 1990
I want to accomplish something in the nineties, don’t you? I’m already making a list (some of which appeared last week). But I know what will happen. I’ll be interrupted. I even was interrupted making the list. And without a doubt, whatever comes first will not be half-finished before I’m interrupted again. Mothers with small children know what I mean. So do fathers and singles and grandparents and everyone else.
“Don’t bother me,” yells big brother as little sister yanks on his sleeve. “Just a minute, dear,” says my husband when I call him. “Go away, I’m not interested,” the busy homemaker tells the door-to-door salesman. Interruptions happen to everyone. But not everyone handles them the same way. Reactions range from perilous near-coronary agitation to the patience of a saint. Consider this story:
Jairus, a prominent leader in the Jewish community, had a serious problem. His daughter was dying He went to find a certain physician with a promising reputation. This gifted healer agreed to go with Jairus and immediately they hurried on their way. As the pushed through the crowded streets, the physician suddenly stopped. “Who touched me?” The crowd wondered if he was joking. But again, he asked the question.
At this point, the father of the dying girl must have been thinking, how can he let anyone or anything interrupt him? How can he just stand here and be concerned about this crowd? None of them are dying.
A woman suddenly fell before the healer. She confessed she had reached out to Him. She believed if she could only touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed of her ailment. And she was. The healer told her to go her way, her faith had made her whole.
The physician of course was Jesus. After healing the woman, He continued on with Jairus and raised his little girl from her deathbed.
Did you notice? Jesus was unconcerned by the interruption. He took care of it and continued with the issue at hand without getting upset or distracted. How did He do it?
I believe Jesus was able to decide what to do about the woman because of the purpose He’d determined for His life. He came to this world to save the lost, to minister and to give His life for many. When Jairus interrupted whatever he was doing in the first place, Jesus saw that this need fit into His priorities. When the woman interrupted Him on the street, He also recognized her need fit into His purpose. Both were important. Not even the crowd would jostle His heart from what he set out to do.
Having such purpose in life is the secret of handling interruptions with grace and dispatch. Having Biblical goals such as Jesus had, determine what each of us do when someone or something crosses our path. For example, one goal could be sharing the emotional burdens of others. Then, when a weeping person calls, it becomes relatively simple to miss a favorite TV show in order to talk to that person. In contrast, if my goal was making money (it isn’t), then a person who asked for a handout would be considered an unwelcome interruption and be brushed aside.
For me, purpose in life is key to this list I’m making. What does God really want me to accomplish? If I’m hurrying to make myself a dress and my daughter needs to talk to me, I have to decide whether wearing something new to the next social event is more important than having a cup of tea with her. Why am I here? Is it to be well dressed? Or to be available to others?
Not all choices are that easy but continual concentration on the reasons God put me here has value. Deciding where my priorities lie may seem like an exercise in splitting hairs but thinking it through very often makes the difference between ending the day with satisfaction or going to bed with a splitting headache.
Now pardon me, my phone is ringing...