REV. GLENN MILLER: Interruptions Can Bring Opportunities
Remember that haunting song with this refrain: "The cat's in the cradle and the cow's on the moon, and I want to grow up just like you, Dad, grow up just like you"?
That song tells about a father who wanted few intrusions -- a father too busy to spend time with his son. The son grew up, and the father yearned for time and attention from his son, but the son gave the same excuses the father had given. The son grew up to be just like his father.
"Intrusion" occurs when one is interrupted by someone or something not welcomed, expected or invited.
My wife Betty and I lived in Beaufort, S.C., when the wonderful movie "Forrest Gump" was made there. Tom Hanks, that film's star, lived with his family in an oceanfront cottage on Fripp Island during most of the filming. One day, Hanks drove his car through the center of Beaufort and noticed a wedding which had just concluded by the front steps of a church on the town's main thoroughfare.
Hanks jumped out of his car, ran up to the very surprised bride and groom, shook the groom's hand and gave the bride a great big kiss. That unanticipated event became Beaufort's big news for weeks. That intrusion made a wonderful impression on two newlyweds and displayed Hanks' enthusiasm for life and his love of people.
According to the world, intrusions are usually unwelcome. God views intrusions differently. He often provides opportunity by intrusion, as illustrated in the life of Jesus and the crowds that followed him -- "There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his disciples didn't have time to eat" (Mark 6:31, TEV).
Sometimes Jesus went out in a boat or slipped into the wilderness to avoid crowds. Once he rested, prayed and regained his strength, he returned to face the pressures and demands of crowds.
In Mark 4 we're told that Jesus and his disciples headed out onto the Sea of Galilee to get away from the crowds. Exhausted, Jesus fell asleep on a cushion in the boat's stern, and "a great windstorm arose." His disciples awakened him, and Jesus calmed the storm -- and the fears of his storm-soaked followers.
On the other side of the sea, Jesus met a man suffering from demons, a man who'd spent his tormented life living and shackled amid tombs in his community's graveyard. Jesus cast the demons from this fellow.
Jesus returned to the other side of the sea, and a crowd gathered. Jairus, a local synagogue leader, pleaded with Jesus to visit his home and heal his dying daughter.
On the way to Jairus' abode, "a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years" fought through the crowd. This desperate woman reached out and touched Jesus' cloak, and "immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease" (v.29).
Jesus didn't ask for intrusions -- but he used intrusions to illustrate the healing power of God and to proclaim the gospel.
A school principal once asked his teachers to write out New Year's resolutions on how they could be better teachers. He said he would post what they wrote on the staff bulletin board. When the resolutions were posted, teachers gathered to read them. One teacher went into a fit of anger.
"The principal didn't put up my resolution, and mine was one of the first ones submitted," the angry teacher said. "He doesn't care about me. This just shows what it's like around here!"
From his desk, the principal overheard the ranting teacher and was mortified. He rummaged through papers on his desk and found the missing submission. He immediately went to the bulletin board and posted the missing resolution, which read: "I resolve not to let the little things in life upset me."
Charlie Shedd, a Christian pastor and counselor, says that one of the marks of Christian faithfulness is what he calls "interruptability." According to Shedd, this comes when a Christian realizes that life has an elastic quality and that God never gives a Christian too much to do. "People do," says Shedd, "but never the Lord!"
How do you see and deal with the interruptions and intrusions in your life?
The Rev. Glenn I. Miller, D. Min., serves as senior pastor of The Village Chapel of Pinehurst.
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