By Stephanie Strom
Our lives are busy. In a single day, we are pulled multiple ways by multiple hands. The tight grip of kids, finances, health, family, grocery lists, soccer practices, devotions, dinner prep, time with kiddos, time with hubby, time with friends, time for yourself, dishes, laundry, dishes, laundry… dishes.
We pour ourselves out every day, every week, year after year.
But there is one port in the chaos, where we can have a quiet solitude.
It’s called the sanctuary. It’s called church.
I love church.
Why do you go to church?
“I go to church to take a break, a reprieve from the world with all its stresses and chaos.
“I want that hour away from the kids to worship the Lord with adults!
“I want to soak in the Word.
“I want to be poured into so I have something to pour out to others.
“I need to be fed.
“I need this time to sit, and not get pulled away by someone or something else.
“When I am at church, I can recharge and breathe.”
For Me. I. Mine.
Have you said any of these? I have.
But guess what church is full of? People.
People who are hurting and needy. People who are lonely, dependent.
People who are desperate, sick, overwhelmed, oppressed, depressed.
People who are self-focused, self- righteous, self-absorbed.
People who are lost, people who are damned.
People who need Jesus.
Even on Sunday.
Even at church.
A few years ago, the Lord challenged me with this idea of being on mission at church.
Jesus is a joy to watch in the gospels. I just can’t get enough of how he maneuvered through any given day. It’s astounding to me that no matter how busy he was, how stressful the situation, how exhausted he may have been, he was always on mission, he was always present, purposeful, and intentional.
And yet, it seemed he was always getting interrupted. Someone was always there, distracting him from what he was doing, blocking the road to where he was going, detouring him to somewhere/something/someone else.
I mean, couldn’t they just leave him alone for a day, or an hour?
Do you remember when Jesus rose before daybreak to be alone? He went to a solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited place just to be by himself, to pray, to breathe. Two seconds later, Peter finds him! You’ve got to be kidding me.
“Everyone is looking for you.”
I cringe whenever I read this text, waiting for Jesus to just unload on Peter in frustration. Tell him to back off. That he, the King of kings, the Creator, the Omniscient, Holy One deserves a break from needy humanity, from everyone pulling on him, wanting him, pleading at him, pulling on his tunic.
But he doesn’t do that. He stands up, puts a hand on Peter’s shoulder, exhales a breath, and continues his mission. Every day for three years it was the same.
Think about this. Jesus was headed towards Jerusalem, towards the city, towards Golgotha. In fact, His next major event was the triumphal entry. He was resolute. And on Mission. To get to Jerusalem from where he was, he passed through Jericho. As he passes through, there was a crowd, and a sycamore tree, and a short man. A wee little man named Zacchaeus.
Interruption, while on mission.
At the height of Passion Week, when tensions were stretched to the limit and intensity was soared high, Jesus stopped everything he was doing to sit on a hilltop with his disciples and watch… and wait… and wonder… at a widow with her two mites. There, Jesus used her as an example to teach the disciples about true surrender.
Interruption, while on mission.
Samaria, and a woman at the well. Peter, and a fishing boat. A paralytic dropped through the roof. The hungry masses. A woman with her alabaster box. The adulterous pardoned. A blind beggar on the side of the road. A leper. A centurion’s servant. Nicodemus in the middle of the night.
Interruptions, while on mission.
But wait, you say. Those weren’t interruptions, those were some of the greatest stories of salvation, of healing, of faith. These are the brightest gleam of Jesus’ glory and wisdom. These are the stories that demonstrate the Lord’s character and compassion and love and grace and forgiveness.
Ah! So true.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere, dear friend.
Be on mission, every day, everywhere you go.
Be intentional, purposeful.
Have your spiritual eyes open, watching for those divine appointments.
Transform interruptions into opportunities.
Shine Jesus, share the gospel, advance the Kingdom.
Even at church on Sunday.