If it doesn’t go in my calendar, it doesn’t get done.
This is true for appointments, important tasks, and simple reminders (e.g., “Siri, remind me to call Mom on Tuesday”).
Having a plan of attack for the week has been a staple of my life since grad school. On the whole, it’s incredibly helpful. Planning for the week allows me to allocate time to things that are important and not just bounce around from urgent task to urgent task. I’m a big fan of having a plan.
But I’ve also noticed a subtle danger in my love of planning. My plan often places me at the center of everything (how many times did I say “my” and “me” in those two sentences?).
My priorities are what get elevated. My desires are made manifest. My timelines are formalized into the timelines.
As a good type-A personality, I have no room for interruptions or deviations from my plan. After all, it’s the plan!
Jesus Works in Interruptions
Our InterVarsity chapter has been studying John this semester. I’ve been struck by how often Jesus was diverted from what he planned to do and instead ministered to someone who definitely didn’t have an appointment.
His first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was not on his schedule (Jn 2). Nicodemus came to ask him questions at night when he was likely ready to go to bed (Jn 3). As he traveled, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind seemingly only because the disciples asked who was to blame for his condition (Jn 9).
The disciples appear to have learned the value of divine interruption from Jesus. In Acts 3, as Peter and John were going to the temple to pray, they stopped to heal a lame man when the man interrupted their holy pilgrimage to ask for money. Do you know how late this probably made Peter and John??
Imagine what would have happened if none of these interruptions occurred, if everything went according to plan. We probably wouldn’t have even heard about it. But these interruptions are recorded in Scripture as the Word of God to us because someone was willing to deviate from the plan for the day to respond to an interruption. As you go about your day, walking to class, working, or studying, how open are you to interruptions?
What’s the Goal?
Over the last few years, I’ve felt the Lord inviting me to embrace interruption more. Since you’re reading this, it means I still have work to do.
With Lent upon us, I’ve again sensed the Lord inviting me to embrace interruption to experience his work, his provision, and his care for me in new ways. Beyond that, I’ve felt the need to repent of the pride inherent in my love of my plan.
I’ve begun wondering, Why do I care about my plan so much? It’s not that it’s bad, but what does unyieldingly holding to my plan accomplish? And for whom.
The answer to both questions centers on myself. I hold to my plan because it makes me feel in control. Accomplishing everything in my plan makes me feel useful, purposeful, and proud. It locates me at the center of all things. And I can miss Jesus entirely.
Saying Yes to the Unexpected
It’s been a few years since the Lord first started impressing the importance of embracing interruption. Several weeks after I first felt this prompting, I was sitting outside at a coffee shop getting some work done. A young guy approached and asked if he could sit at my table since all the other seating was taken. Being a Southern man, I politely obliged and continued my work with my headphones in.
Then he started talking. I would smile, engage a little, and then go back to work. But the guy was relentless! He kept talking, and I kept giving him the bare minimum in an attempt to get back to my work.
Then it hit me. This was exactly the kind of situation that the Lord had been inviting me to embrace. So I did something radical. I closed my laptop, put away my headphones, and started asking him questions.
What followed was an hour-and-a-half conversation on life, animation styles, homemade soaps, and Jesus that left my head spinning in its breadth and depth. I was able to share the gospel with him and attempted to get him connected to a friend who was on staff at a church around the corner from his house. We followed each other on Instagram to stay in touch (and we still do!).
I left getting far fewer things done but began the process of saying yes to Jesus even when it doesn’t fit into my schedule.
Pride is insidious. It’s subtle enough that we often overlook it but repulsive enough that we resist the implication that we may, in fact, be proud. Yet it’s one of the most renounced sins in the Bible: “God resists the proud” (Jas 4:6).
As we enter into Lent, a season marked by repentance and contemplation of the death of Jesus for our sins, let’s ask the Lord to rid us of our pride in our schedules. Let’s ask him for the sensitivity to respond to his leading through interruptions. Let’s resolve to linger in a moment instead of rushing off to the next thing.
Benjie is a campus staff minister at the University of Georgia. His desire is to see students engage their classmates, friends, and family with the Gospel and pursue Jesus faithfully into adulthood. Support his ministry at give.intervarsity.org/home?v=1&utm_campaign=home&g=47873,o,0
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