10 Words to Erase Interruptions

Sam Townsend
June 22nd, 2021

It was a Wednesday afternoon. My levels of adrenaline, caffeine and creativity were perfectly balanced as I pulled together details for programming that evening. A couple more hours of this focus and I’d be set.

That’s when I heard a familiar voice from the hallway outside my office.

I’d run into Greg around town a few times. He was sometimes looking for a conversation, sometimes money, often a ride. Rarely did he choose a convenient time to appear. Today was no exception.

My fingers froze above my keyboard as I listened to Greg begin to ask the office manager about a ride. I could pretty easily shut myself in my office and finish my work—that was my preference. Someone else would come along for Greg, and that would be fine. I sat there contemplating my stress levels for another moment. Then, still uncertain if I would walk through it or gently close it, I moved toward the door.

You’ve been there, right? Deep into your day’s plan when there comes an email, a knock at the door, a text, or a call—or sometimes they just wander in and sit down. Whether in the focus of productivity or the fallout of procrastination, it can be hard to know how to deal with interruptions.

Of course, Jesus was constantly being interrupted— when he was travelling (Mark 10:46-52), when he was asleep (Luke 8:22–25), when he was on his way to do ministry (Luke 8:40–48), when he was praying (Mark 1:35–39), and even—in spectacular fashion—when he was in the middle of a sermon (Luke 5:17-26).

In each of those situations, he extended time, energy and compassion to those who interrupted him. And he directed his disciples to do the same, challenging their excuses. As a follower of Jesus, I too try to justify my lack of motivation to care for people who interrupt my day. And just as he did with his disciples, Jesus answers my excuses:

When I say, “I’m dreadfully busy,” Jesus points me to the religious leaders who were too busy to help, but the Samaritan who allowed himself to be inconvenienced to assist someone he recognized as a neighbor (Luke 10).

When I say, “I’m too important,” Jesus says, perhaps “no servant is greater than his master,” but even I did the job of a servant and washed feet (John 13).

When I say, “I am doing this other great thing for the Kingdom,” Jesus reminds me that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a top priority of Christ’s Kingdom work (Mark 12).

And yet… and yet… 

Even knowing that Jesus was interrupted at many different times by many different people and that he always responded with care and compassion. 

Even knowing Jesus calls me to be a servant in inconvenient moments to the people he puts in my path…

I still struggle to escape that wave of annoyance and anxiety when an unexpected person pulls me away from my work.

So, I started doing something simple and small—a 10-word prayer that has changed the way I perceive interruptions. Here it is:

“God, interrupt my day with people who need your love.”

Here’s what this prayer has done for me: Rather than seeing events as random coincidences, I began to see them as God’s handiwork—as divine appointments that he has planned just for me! Instead of seeing unexpected people as annoying interruptions, I began to see them as answers to prayer.

Maybe praying this prayer could do the same for you.

Here’s what I’d challenge you to do: Write this prayer down, post it somewhere you’ll see it and pray it every day this week. If it doesn’t feel like it shifts anything for you, nothing is lost. But if God begins to change how you see others and how you recognize God’s work in your life, make praying this prayer a habit.

I guess I didn’t finish my story about Greg… but maybe this cliffhanger should be resolved not in these lines, but in the story of your day—and mine too––because we all most certainly have “Gregs” unexpectedly intruding into our perfect plans for productivity. And we all have to decide if our bodies and hearts will spring up in welcome of God-given opportunities, or softly shut the door to disturbances.

Remember, sometimes we don’t erase interruptions by cutting them out; we erase interruptions by recognizing the people who wander into our day as opportunities to fulfill God’s mission for our lives. 

Today, may your plans be interrupted by people who need God’s love.

Sam Townsend

Sam Townsend is the Senior High Pastor at Calvary Church in Roseville, Minnesota. On the side he is a writer, a third-generation footlong hotdog salesman, and a teller of jokes that could make a grown man groan. Just a 0.7-mile commute from church, Sam and his wife Rachel live with their five chickens which, by the way, produce far more eggs than two people could possibly eat on their own.

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