10/28/05

Encouragement for Today

 

“The Ministry of Interruptions”

Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor – P31 Woman Magazine, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse:

Matthew 9:18-19, “While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died.  But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’  Jesus got up and went with him and so did the disciples.” (NIV)

 

Devotion:

“I know how busy you are and I’m so sorry to bother you,” began my friend.  Her request was simple, and I was glad she asked.  But afterwards I was pierced by her apology for “bothering” me.

 

Her comment haunted me.  Why did she feel badly about asking for my help?  Obviously I must give off the impression I’m too busy to be bothered.  As I pondered this idea, God brought my own words to mind.  I realized for many years, my standard answer to “How are you?” was, “I’m busy.”   If my friends couldn’t tell how busy I was by watching my frantic schedule, then I felt obliged to tell them.

 

The kindness of my friend caused me to not only evaluate my oral language, but also my body language and schedule.  Did my words and lifestyle welcome the interruption of a friend in need, or put up a “stop” sign?  I was sad to realize that a red light was flashing most of the time, and my “welcome” mat was in storage.

 

I wondered how many opportunities to help a friend had been missed by my hectic life, and don’t-bother-me approach to interruptions.  While I’d been checking items off my to-do list, had I missed something on God’s to-do list?

 

Jesus definitely had a different approach to interruptions – He welcomed them.  In Matthew 9, we read that Jesus was teaching His and John’s disciples.  I imagine them circled around Jesus, some on the ground, others on rocks, all leaning in to capture every word.  In the middle of the lesson, a synagogue ruler named Jarius interrupted and asked Jesus to come help his sick daughter.  The Scripture records that Jesus got up and went with Jarius.  Jesus didn’t ask Jarius to come back later, or sigh and reluctantly rise.  The text implies that Jesus rose immediately and responded to the request for help.

 

People must have known that Jesus was approachable because this is just one of many instances where people interrupted Him.  Jesus’ demeanor must have welcomed hurting, scared and lonely people to come when they felt the need.  As Jesus responded with grace to the interruptions in His schedule, God worked miracles, and this time was no exception.  But on this day, God worked two miracles.

 

Before Jesus could get to Jarius’ daughter, a second interruption occurred.  As Jesus walked through the crowded street, a woman reached out to touch His cloak.  This woman, who had been bleeding for 12 years, was healed as she touched Jesus’ garment.  Jesus felt the healing power leave Him, and He stopped walking long enough to speak with the woman.  After this interaction, Jesus continued His journey to Jarius’ house, where He raised the daughter from the dead.

 

Two interruptions, two gracious and loving responses by Jesus, and two miracles.  Imagine if Jesus had been too busy, or if Jarius or the woman had been afraid to bother Jesus.  Imagine the ministry God might want to work through us when we welcome interruptions.

 

Jesus modeled a lifestyle of openness.  Young and old, wealthy and poor, and healthy and sick all approached Jesus with questions and requests for help.  Jesus’ willingness to respond to the unexpected opened doors for God to work.  Even though Jesus had a lot on His agenda, there was always time for a surprise need.

 

I’m learning from Jesus to slow down, choose welcoming words and consciously eliminate rushing from my life.  Jesus modeled a life submitted to God’s plan – including the interruptions.   My prayer is that God will work through me in the ministry of interruptions.

 

My Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your compassion and patience with me.  I know I can always come to You when I’m in need.  Help me to be more aware of the needs of those around me.  I want to be more like Jesus and allow You to work through me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps:

Is there a friend or family member you have been too busy to help?  Identify one person who needs more of your time.  Commit to changing your words and opening up your schedule to be more available to that person.

 

Reflection Points:

Would your friends say you are approachable or not?  If not, why might they have that opinion?

 

Are there times in your life when it’s ok to eliminate interruptions?  When would that be?

 

Why do you think Jesus didn’t seem to be bothered by interruptions?

 

How can you adapt your schedule or attitude so that interruptions are more opportunities than annoyances?

 

Who or what causes the most interruptions in your schedule?  Have you responded with grace?

 

Power Verses:

Matthew 18:5,  “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (NIV)

 

James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (NIV)

 

I John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”  (NIV)

 

Proverbs 14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” (NIV)

 

I John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

The Art of Helping, by Lauren Littauer Briggs

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_artHelping.htm

 

A Woman’s Secret to a Balanced Life, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_secretBalanced.htm

 

P31 Woman Magazine

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/woman.htm