Most of us have been distracted or frustrated by the surprise of unwelcome interruptions. They are not “scheduled,” they rob us of time we don’t have, and they require energy we had not counted on. Interruptions are not just a bother—they are often significant impediments in the journey of the day—or a lifetime…

Jesus dealt with interruptions all the time. In his essentially busy day, he regularly paused for a “detour” in his chosen path. Somehow, he also wrestled a blessing from each distraction and obstacle on the way. If you read the Gospel of Mark in one “sitting” (about 40 minutes—without rushing), you will identify a variety of times in which the Healer was “stopped in his tracks” on his way to another priority. A man in a synagogue cries out while he’s teaching… A leper stops him as he walks to Capernaum… A crowd gathers outside the house (and inside)—and he can’t even leave… Pharisees disrupt his meal to criticize him… A man with a withered hand stops him on his way to worship, again… A mentally distressed man runs up to him near a cemetery, when had crossed a lake to avoid a crowd… He even leaves town, and hides in a non-Jewish neighborhood to rest, and a mother finds him and begs for the healing of a child… On and on the interruptions are recorded.

How do we manage interruptions? I’ve often recorded them as nasty derailments in my planned course of life. I was interrupted in my Masters in Psychology by the death of a family member (degree postponed six months). The pause provided me a perspective on how hard I really wanted to work for what I wanted to get. I was interrupted in my Ph.D. by a supervisor who suggested I take “time off” because I was worn out. The three-year break gave me a new perspective on my vocational journey, I might have missed—in my haste. I was interrupted in my hope to have children, which gave me cause to determine if I was ready to make parenting a true priority. And when I thought I wanted to be a pastor, a seminary asked me to teach for a while.

What interruptions have defined your life?