From the moment we begin walking and talking we are taught not to interrupt adults. It’s just rude.
And so, as we grow up into adults, we learn to not tolerate interruptions from anyone or anything.
Just last week I was working out at home on my elliptical. I had my headphones on and a book in my hand. I was in the middle of my 30 min ‘me time’ workout. My brother-in-law came into the room where I was engrossed in my workout, my music and my book and he began to talk to me. “I’m clearly busy now. Can’t you just wait to talk to me until I’m done?” Immediately I thought of Stephanie Tanner’s famous saying, “How rude!”
And then, almost immediately, two stories in the Gospels about interruptions came to mind. Thanks a lot God!
The first story is the well-known Good Samaritan story. Every time I read that story I hear and see something new. The story goes like this. A priest and then a Levite (the people group where Priests came from) walked down the same road one day but not together. The priest was a priest so there is no question he was a compassionate man. His field demanded it. Yet when he saw a man beat up and in need of help across the street, he stayed on his side of the road and walked on. When the Levite, also an undoubtedly compassionate man walked down the street and saw the man in need, he too, kept on his way.
But then a Samaritan walks by, sees the man across the street, bleeding and hurting and he stops, crosses the street and tends to the man.
The difference between the priest and the Levite and the Samaritan is that the Samaritan allowed himself to be interrupted when he saw a need. The priest and the Levite did not.
The second story is one of my favorite in the entire Bible. Jesus was approached by a pleading man who asked Jesus to heal his dying daughter. A miraculous healing needed to happen immediately and Jesus was the man to do it. Jesus agrees to go to the man’s daughter and so begins their journey to the man’s home. A large crowd begins to form around Jesus and without warning, Jesus stops and turns around looking into the crowd behind him. The disciples begin to panic a little and urge Jesus to keep moving to avoid a pushy crowd moving in on them. But Jesus isn’t fazed by the crowd. He stopped and turned because he knew someone had touched his robe and was healed. He calls out into the crowd, “Who touched my robe?”
Silence. “Bueller. Bueller. Bueller.”
I can just imagine the dad of the dying girl just devastated that Jesus stopped.
Jesus asks again, “Who touched me?”
Finally a woman comes crawling to his feet to confess she is the one who touched him. She proceeds to share with Jesus her story. She’s bled for twelve years. Due to her chronic unclean state, she’s rejected from society and forced to live as an outcast outside the city walls. She’s now poor and lost everything in her pursuit of trying to get well from local physicians. Desperate for healing, she braved the crowd, broke the rules of her position and makes her way to the tail end of Jesus’s robe. I imagine her literally crawling through the crowd, hoping to go in unseen.
The woman was healed the instant she touched Jesus’s robe. But the even greater healing comes when Jesus calls her Daughter. He names her and gives her a place in his family. He healed her physically first and then he healed her spiritually and restored her identity as a loved daughter of the King of Kings.
How easy it would have been for Jesus to have not stopped but kept going because of the urgent need ahead of him. But he didn’t. He stopped. He turned. He listened. He healed. He restored.
And get this. The girl he was on his way to see, she dies. But even death is not too big a problem for Jesus to deal with. He raises the girl back to life!
Jesus doesn't think it's rude to be interrupted nor is he afraid to to break social norms. He does it all the time! He’s never too busy for you, for me, for anyone. He is always willing and eagerly waiting for us to call on him in our need and in our moments of desperation. As we grow in our relationship with him, we realize we are in a constant state of needing him and he will never be too busy or uninterested in meeting our needs and being with us.
So I wonder what street I need to cross today. I wonder who needs me to stop, turn and listen to them. Who do you need to step off the curb for? Who desperately needs you to allow them to interrupt you today?