Pardon the interruption
Am I interruptible?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself this week. A few days ago the devotional guide I use in the mornings took me to the story of Abraham being visited by three strangers in the heat of the day (Gen. 18:1-5). We’re told that, in some mysterious way, Abraham recognized these visitors as a personification of God himself, drawing near to his tent! So he dropped everything he was doing to welcome, care for, and feed his unexpected guests. Then God gave Abraham something in return – the promise of a son who would be born in his old age.
That’s not the day he was expecting when he woke up that morning!
This led me to some uncomfortable reflection: how willing am I to have my plans interrupted by the unexpected and the inconvenient? The fact is, my life is quite busy and my calendar is over-full. I’ve got lists to organize my lists. When something – or someone – interrupts my finely-tuned schedule, it can feel like an irritation or an imposition. I’ve got things to do!
Here’s the important truth, though: God has a habit of showing up unexpected and unannounced all the time.
Beyond this story of Abraham, think of the way God appeared to Moses in a burning bush while he was tending sheep on Mount Horeb (Ex. 3:1-4). He “turned aside” to see the strange sight . . . and his world was turned upside down! Or think of young Mary, going about her business, when an angel of the Lord appears and sweeps her into the very center of God’s Story (Lk. 1:26-33). Or what about Peter? After an unsuccessful night of fishing, Jesus jumps into his boat and tells him to head back out onto the water (Lk. 5:1-11). Peter, reluctant at first, does what Jesus asks and ends up with the catch of a lifetime. He also ends up with a new direction for his life as he leaves his bursting nets on the shore and sets out to follow Jesus.
Each of these people had an encounter with the interrupting God.
Which raises the question: what if they had plowed ahead with their well-laid plans, dismissing the interruption as inconvenient and untimely? They would have missed out on the surprising gifts God had for them and through them.
So I find myself wanting to learn from Abraham and these others. I’m praying this week for a spirit of interruptible and attentive hospitality. What plans do I need to let go of? Who are the people God is bringing to my door? And how might I find myself encountering him as I welcome them in?
As we learn to hold our days with open hands, who knows what gifts God may place within them.