“Rather than letting setbacks and interruptions upset me, I want to use them as reminders—that You are the sovereign God and I am Your beloved follower. Help me to trust in Your unfailing Love, gladly subordinating my plans to Your infinitely wise Master Plan.”
– Jesus Listens, October 26th
I don’t like to be interrupted. Whether in conversation or while I am working on a task, interruptions derail my focus, stunt task completion, and frequently leave me unsettled or annoyed. I lose the point of what I was discussing when people interject. I lose my fervor for the task at hand when other demands cut in to dance.
Some interruptions lurch
I know you’ve been here, trying to tap out a text that matters—the response to your boss, the apology to your spouse, the reply to your co-worker who is really struggling—but you battle to gather your thoughts coherently because the people in front of you are engaging you in conversation as well. What’s for dinner, Mom? Are you ready to go yet? All while your phone keeps firing off new notifications. It’s challenging at times, just to communicate.
Some interruptions lurch beyond the moment, too. Your whole day, your whole week, can be hijacked by illness or inclement weather or friends and family who have immediate needs no one was planning for. The unexpected can be an unwelcome interruption.
Research shows that when interruptions increase, productivity declines1. We make more mistakes. It takes time to refocus. And we aren’t all that good at multitasking. But we live in this loud and overly-connected world, so you already knew that.
Easy to blame others
It’s easy to get frustrated and blame technology or blame others for the interruptions of life, but I find it more helpful to look at the life of Christ—the one who was tempted in every way and yet without sin (Hebrew 4:15 NIV)—and ask, “Was Jesus ever interrupted?”
Think about it for a minute. There are so many examples that come to mind.
The disciples interrupted Jesus from a nap because a wild storm had interrupted their jaunt across the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4 NIV)
Jesus was tending to an unexpected crowd when Jairus interrupted the gathering, falling at Jesus’ feet to plead for healing for his dying daughter. (Mark 5 NIV)
As Jesus took off with Jairus to tend to the task at hand, a bleeding woman interrupted their journey, drawing on the power of Christ with a single touch, hoping that He would be her healer as well. (Mark 5 NIV)
Interruptions are unavoidable
Notice we have only grazed a couple chapters of the book of Mark, but the interruptions are unavoidable. Everywhere Jesus went, crowds met Him. When He crossed the sea, they raced to meet Him on the other side. They showed up hurt and hungry. They brought their sons and their daughters. They laid before Him the sick and diseased. Jesus was continually interrupted.
After the death of John the Baptist, Matthew tells us Jesus withdrew to a desolate place to be alone. But when the people learned of it, they followed Him, and soon enough there was a crowd. Can you imagine just wanting a little time alone, just a bit of space and solitude, when a whole crowd of people vying for your attention interrupts you? Matthew puts words to the actions we see repeatedly in the life of Christ, “…He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14 NIV)
Jesus did not view interruptions the way we do. People in need were never a distraction from the work; they were the work His Father had sent Him to do. His efficiency was never compromised because He did not live by marginal metrics. He lived and loved and walked and worked with the hope of eternity for all of mankind, and because of that, the interruptions of life were never frustrating obligations. They were fertile opportunities.
I wonder how many fertile opportunities I have failed to recognize, how many inconveniences could have been invitations. God’s grace meets us here as we learn to see the world through His eyes. Paul commends us in Galatians to walk by the Spirit, whose fruit is the love and joy and peace that the world around us desperately needs. John tells us that very Spirit is our
Helper, teaching us and helping us remember the very words and actions of Christ. We are thoroughly equipped for the good work He has called us to do. Let’s be people who live with a biblical view of interruptions. Let’s ask God to reset our reflexes that we might make the most of each and every opportunity He gives us, today and every day.
About The Author
Katie Westenberg is the author of But Then She Remembered and contributes to Club 31 Women, the Huffington Post, The Gospel Coalition, and Mothers of Daughters. Katie is passionate about speaking truth and encouraging women to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. Katie and her husband live with their four children in Washington State. Learn more at katiewestenberg.com.