By Will Zant
As a pastor, I am often asked, “When do you write your sermons?” I can honestly say there's no definite time each week my writing occurs. Although, I work hard at clearing out time in my schedule, admittedly it is hard. The reason is simple.
There are always interruptions. It can range from a logistical question about a church matter, a sudden tragedy in the church or someone who simply would like to share how God is working in their lives.
Early in my ministry, these interruptions became a source of frustration as I wanted to “get the work done.” But one day I read a devotion from the Christian spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. He writes, “While visiting the University of Notre Dame, where I had been a teacher for a few years, I met an older experienced professor who had spent most of his life there. And while we strolled over the beautiful campus, he said with a certain melancholy in his voice, 'You know . . . my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.'”
Nouwen goes on to explain that interruptions are means of God's grace. Interruptions help us learn that the concerns and hopes of God's people are more important than the boxes we seek to check on our to-do list. Of course, the to-do list must get done, but I have learned that interruptions are our work. In Jesus' traveling ministry, he is constantly interrupted by people who need his help: the sick, the hungry, the grieving, the wedding host who ran out of wine! As we read these accounts, we learn it was these moments of interruptions in which Jesus offers his most poignant moments of grace and teaching.
In Matthew 1:23, we learn that Jesus will be called, “'Emmanuel', which means God is with us.” We are reminded that when Jesus came to this earth he was fully 'with us'. We've all been guilty at times of being distracted when others want us to be 'with them.' As a parent, my 3 year old daughter has told me on occasions, 'dad, you're not listening.' We too have been on the other end when others are cautiously checking their watch when we are speaking. Jesus is a God who is with us.
If you are like me, maybe one way we can all better serve as agents of God's grace is to view interruptions as part of our work.