How do you handle interruptions? I don’t handle them too well. I wish I dealt with them better, but I prefer it when life happens smoothly, according to (my) plan.
A familiar story can teach us a lot about interruptions. The story takes place in the early morning, near the end of Peter’s workday. He had been fishing all night. All that was left to do before going home to bed was to wash his nets and make any needed repairs to them.
While Peter worked on his nets, he listened to Jesus teach a crowd nearby. Peter met his first interruption the moment Jesus stepped into his boat. The Lord wanted Peter to push off from shore so He could be heard better by the growing crowd. Peter may have thought, “Hope this won’t take too long. I’ve still got more cleaning to do before I can go home.”
But Jesus wasn’t finished with Peter. When He had finally dismissed the crowd, Jesus continued to interrupt Peter’s plans by requesting that they take the boat into deeper water to catch some fish. If I was Peter, I might have thought, “Doesn’t Jesus realize how tired I am? Doesn’t He care how much this will put me behind schedule?” There are times that I’ll obey reluctantly with a poor attitude. But to Peter’s credit, he obeyed the Lord and said, “I’ve fished all night and caught nothing. But because You say so, I’ll do it.”
If you know this story in Luke 5, Peter’s nets enclosed so many fish that he had to call his partners to bring their boat to help him. I’ll bet Peter no longer saw this as an “interruption.” Jesus had performed a miracle and it shifted Peter’s mindset. Instead of being excited about his boatload of fish, his attention riveted upon his sinfulness and unworthiness to be in the Lord’s presence. This “interruption” proved to be the turning point in Peter’s life. He left his fishing business to become a disciple of Jesus. Jesus hadn’t interrupted Peter’s day simply to mess it up. He wanted Peter to see that He had a better plan for his life than spending the next thirty to forty years catching wiggly fish.
The Lord often masks His interruptions in the form of another person needing our encouragement. It may require us to change our plans in order to help someone. As with Vacation Bible School recently, He may have asked you to get up earlier and teach some children about Him. Perhaps, you are planning to eat a quiet lunch alone, when someone stops by to talk. God may “interrupt” your life with an accident or a prolonged illness. Whatever method He chooses, He’s doing it to reveal more of Himself to us or to use us in other’s lives.
I hope reading of the Lord’s interaction with Peter will help me to recognize His hand quicker when I’m interrupted. I’m reminded of the words of James, “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.” (1:2-3, Phillips translation)