Henri Nouwen said in Turn My Mourning into Dancing, “…I realized the interruptions were my work…” This statement baffles me on many ways levels. We start our day with a well-devised schedule and plan. Then the phone call comes. The person stops by unannounced. Sometimes one huge crisis diverts our attention and other times several little incidents detour us through the day.
Taking on the interruptions seems like a recipe for disaster. It breaks the routine. Pulls us off our goals. We have pitted people against tasks. Budgeting time requires the wisdom to know when to say “yes” or “no.”
The larger question we have relates to our devised lists, schedules, and plans. I wonder if we incur debts to our budget of time because we overspend it. We jam our day full of tasks without ever having margin for an interruption. Then when we fail to finish what we planned, then we live accruing anxiety on our time.
Gordon MacDonald in Ordering Your Private World makes this observation about Jesus and time:
Although His everyday world was on a much smaller scale, it would appear that He lived with very much the same sort of intrusions and demands with which we are familiar. But one never gets the feeling when studying the life of Christ that He ever hurried, that He ever had to play “catch up,” or that He was ever taken by surprise. Not only was He adept at handling His public time without an appointments secretary, but He also managed adequate amounts of time alone for the purpose of prayer and meditation, and for being with the few He had gathered around Him for the purpose of discipleship (pg. 82)
Jesus took time for the interruptions of healing people and discussing life in addition to the time He took away to pray and simply be present for the disciples. In His confinement of space and time, He models for us how to invest our time.
Busy can seem like a badge of honor. In a moment of honesty, though, we long to live life unhurried. Accomplishing our responsibilities while still having space for what matters. Part of our frustration with interruptions comes from our tension between wanting to respond and the realization we overbooked ourselves.
As we begin today, I think we have a few questions to ask ourselves about our time:
What has Christ called me to do today?
What tasks need my attention today and what can I plan for another day?
Do I have a margin of space for an interruption?
Do the most important people in my life feel valued by the time I have given them today?
The wisdom of interruptions does not mean a lack of direction or organization. Rather it means having the wisdom to invest time what matters for the day and leaving room for the people situations God might bring into our lives.
Photo credit by Veri Ivanova.