Interruptions or Opportunities?

Have you ever had one of those comical moments when the oven timer goes off just as the telephone rings? As you grab the phone with one hand, and reach for the oven door with the other, the doorbell rings. One of the kids is tugging on your shirt demanding attention, and of course the dog is barking wildly.  Company will be arriving soon, the table needs to be set, and potato chips are crunching underfoot from the bag that spilled at lunch.  Lunch?  That was hours ago!  Where has the time gone?  What happened to the carefully crafted outline for the day that was drawn up in the morning when the day was fresh and there were hours of time?  Why, there was even time for a few rounds of Monopoly with the kids, and a leisurely bubble bath while the bread dough was rising.  I tell you – there was enough time!  There was!  So, what happened?

I can tell you in one word what happened – Interruptions!

Whether at home or work, doesn’t it seem that on our busiest days, those days when we are sure we don’t have a minute to spare, that the interruptions come, not just in waves, but in tsunamis.  Phone calls, unexpected visitors, extra work assignments, missing supplies, broken equipment.   Miss Interruption is a mischievous rascal, always coming up with new ways to thwart our efforts to accomplish our goals.

Well, I say it is time to take Miss Interruption off her throne.  Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing you whimper in despair as the day draws to an end and your goals huddle miserably on the floor, waiting with the faint hope that tomorrow they’ll be completed.  No, it is time to laugh at this impostor, this one who thinks she is in control of your life.

I am going to let you in on a little secret…. Miss Interruption is not in charge. She is only a tool in the hands of God.

How often we begin our days with a plan, a to-do list, things we must accomplish before the sun sets.  We simply can’t afford to have any interruptions; our time is limited and we need to press on, checking items off our list.  And then the phone rings.  Someone needs a ride, a meal, a babysitter, a listening ear.  What will our response be? I think we have options:

1) Decline to help and get back to the work that is right in front of your eyes even as you    talk. It is calling to you, compelling you to return.

2) Offer your services, but fretfully, begrudging the time away from your planned work. You are skilled at hiding your dismay, but it is definitely there, lurking just beneath the surface.  One wrong word from the wrong person and it may come spilling out.

Or, (and you knew this was coming)

3) Offer your assistance with a real pleasure in being able to help someone in need.

The Bible tells us,  “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:1, 2).   If Jesus gave up His life for me, can I not give up my lists, my plans and schedules to be of service to someone else?

Daily Strength for Daily Needs is a devotional book first published in 1896. It is a compilation of thoughts from famous Christian writers of earlier years.  One of the contributors was Annie Keary.  She was the daughter of an Irish clergyman, educated at home, and an author and poet.  I have been challenged by her words ever since I first read them years ago.

“I think I find most help in trying to look all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work.  Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work – one’s work for God-consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day.  It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day-the part one can best offer to God.  After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.”    Annie Keary, 1825-1879

I have a feeling that Annie had her own battles with Miss Interruption, and eventually succeeded in throwing her off the throne.  She says it so elegantly in her beautiful Victorian way, but her battles with time management and interruptions were no different than ours.  She learned the secret that God is in control and interruptions are not to be seen as, well, interruptions but as opportunities.  They are really what our day is all about.  The day God has planned for us.

I invite you to consider with me the possibility that the next time the phone rings, the person on the other end may be calling with a  job opportunity from God.  Think about it, won’t you?


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6 thoughts on “Interruptions or Opportunities?

  1. I like how she put this into perspective, “It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day-the part one can best offer to God.” Because GOD plans our day, HE shows us HIS way. I get it. Thank you Jill. Thank you for inspirational thinking!

  2. I have used Daily Strength for Daily Needs a lot in the past and have been thinking about getting back to it. I love this post about interruptions. When I can remember that the interruption is an appointment made by the Lord, I have good experiences. But how often do I remember that???

  3. Thanks, Jill, for this timely reminder…you are so right!
    It’s exciting to go into your day wondering what God has in store, rather than being so focused on our own things! He knows so much better what we need to do!!

  4. “job opportunities from God”….I love that! I really had to learn this in my work life because I would head into a day with a crazy schedule possessed by the need to be focused, and organized and find that the first patient came late for his appointment, or a needy mom called just before I headed down to clinic, or some other thing like that would threaten to derail my carefully scripted plan. I used to become so wigged out by these kind of occurences until I finally learned to live in the moment, giving each situation the attitude and response it needed, and allow God to handle the consequences. Time and time again I would find that it all worked out—-the next patient wouldn’t show up, my availability to the distressed mom would calm her down and the phone call would end up being shorter than I ever would have anticipated, etc. Thanks for the reminder once again that God can work through us only when we make ourselved available to whatever he sends our way!

  5. I had a good opportunity today to remember that God is in control of interruptions. I had a two hour window to meet Emmanuel, have lunch with him, do a bit of shopping in preparation for his trip to India in a few days, get groceries and get back home. I ran into three people I haven’t seen in years and had three ‘catching up’ conversations. All the while I was reminded that God was in control of my time. I got my errands done, and was home in time to get the house cleaned and dinner cooked for company. I hope that my listening ear really was the most useful part of my day.

    • Isn’t that just like the Lord ? Not slow to test our commitment when we have been bold enough to publish it. You are an encouragement.

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