Life is filled with interruptions.
We had a tire blow out on our van last week. I unexpectedly spent several hours resolving that situation and then getting new tires.
Julia recently had a new tooth come in. My wife and I endured two sleepless nights listening to her wake up every hour and moan in her crib.
Early last week, I was excited at the thought of getting ahead in my teaching and preaching preparation. Instead, the church office became a revolving door of visitors. At the end of the afternoon, I felt like I hadn’t gotten anything done.
Life is filled with interruptions. Sometimes, these interruptions keep us from activities that we consider very important. We want to use our time wisely, to be on mission for the kingdom of God, to be proclaimers of the gospel while we still have breath. We go to conferences and get pumped up to make a difference. We download mp3s of sermons and benefit from others’ insights. We want to feed the hungry, comfort the grieving, and give the gospel to the lost.
But then we catch with the stomach flu and spend two days at home in bed. Our responsibilities pull and push us in a gazillion directions. We get saddled with additional responsibilities that don’t seem to get us anywhere.
Much of our life is spent reacting to boring interruptions. Even our daily routines can be a drudgery.
- Taking a shower.
- Brushing teeth.
- Changing diapers.
- Carting the kids across town for sports events.
- Cleaning the house.
- Paying bills.
- Mowing the lawn.
- Fixing the car.
The truth is… life is rarely as exciting as we would like it to be. In fact, when things are exciting, we’d give anything for life to “settle back down”.
But all of life is sacred. All of life is the outworking of a story dreamed up in the heart of a mighty and loving God.
The more I grow in my faith, the more I realize that there is a holiness to this humdrum. There is indeed rhyme and reason to these responsibilities. Interruptions can be sacred, though we often don’t recognize them as such. Whatever ideas I have about “ministry” in the abstract are usually shot down by the reality of “ministry” among real, living, breathing people. Life is messy. So is ministry.
I enjoy reading biographies of great men and women of the faith. One of the lessons I have learned from these biographies is that these people were busy too. Though we may know them primarily from their sermons or writings, they too had lives filled with interruption.
- Charles Spurgeon responded to hundreds of letters a week.
- John Calvin wrote his theology with nearly a dozen kids in the house.
- The founders of Southern Seminary established a thriving institution, and yet spent months at a time recovering from illnesses that plagued them.
- Up until a century ago, traveling to a distant place could take days. If we think our life is filled with wasted time, imagine the long walks and rides they had to endure.
I’ve come to realize that I can either view interruptions and mundane daily routines as a necessary evil, or as a sacred reminder from the Lord himself:
- A reminder that I am not the master of my life.
- A reminder that I am called to serve in ways seen and unseen.
- A reminder that along with God’s good gifts come great responsibilities.
- A reminder that I am called to minister to the actual people in front of me, and not wait around for a “ministry” that exists only in my mind.
Nothing is humdrum if done to the glory of God. I can spend all evening wondering what God’s plan is for us ten years down the road… or I can decide that God’s immediate will is for me to help my wife with the dishes.
God is no stranger to the mundane and menial task. His Son was a carpenter, after all. But God specializes in using ordinary items for extraordinary purposes.
Jesus takes a little boy’s packed lunch – bread and fish – and feeds thousands.
He takes a creaky fisherman’s boat and makes it a pulpit for him to preach to the masses.
He spits on the ground and uses dirt to heal a man’s blindness.
He takes the most ordinary of all foods – bread, breaks it, and says, “This is my body.” He takes the cup and says, “This is my blood.”
He fills a basin with ordinary water and washes dirty feet.
The cross is just two planks of wood. Yet through the cross, the world is saved.
So next time, you change diapers, wash dishes, fix your car, mow your lawn, or have your schedule interrupted – spend some time with the Lord. Remember the sacredness of time. And then, thank God for holy humdrum.