The 5,000 Interruptions

Interruptions are awful. I think that’s something we can all agree on.

No one likes the person who is constantly interrupting others and trying to get a word (or a whole paragraph) in. And how about those times at work when everything is running smoothly and then BAM! Chaos, a problem, or a dramatic coworker interrupts the bliss, sending the whole day around an ugly bend. The absolute worst interruptions are those that happen on vacations though. Getting sick in paradise or having an unwelcome “tag along” party can sometimes throw our whole weekend into a tizzy!

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. | Mark 6:30-34

How unfortunate, right? The disciples were all ready to go on this relaxing getaway with Jesus alone when the unthinkable happens: the entire town spies them heading away and shows up at their vacay spot!

I would be livid. I could go on to describe just how upset I would be if this really happened to me… but I think it’s best for all of us if I just leave it at that.

Put yourselves in the disciples’ shoes… err sandals. They had just returned from going out into the villages to preach repentance and perform miracles in Jesus’ name. Super cool but also super exhausting. Jesus, seeing their weariness, beckons them to come away with Him to rest. So they do.

And then 5,000 people decide to tag along.

Ever had/been a third-wheel or the odd one out? Yeah, well this is a million times worse than that. FIVE THOUSAND people show up to this secluded spot that was supposed to serve as a restful getaway to THIRTEEN.

Consider the Lord’s response to the world’s most massive interruption:

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. | Mark 6:34

Jesus saw them. Not as interruptions. Not as annoying obligations. Not as unnecessary, inconvenient, time-consuming, draining distractions. No, He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. And out poured compassion in the purest form (Philippians 2:4-5).

I wonder if Mark 6:34 convicts your heart as much as it does mine. I so rarely see the people right in front of me. And if, by chance, I catch them in the corner of my eye, I pretend I haven’t. I look away while simultaneously wishing them away – from my sight, from my conscience.

I confess: I don’t love people as I should. I don’t love people like Him. Like Jesus. In fact, I fall so incredibly short of displaying this kind of divine, out-of-this-world, never-seen-before Love. Yes, that’s Love with a capital “L” – because it’s not like the often weightless “I love you’s” we throw around every day.

I don’t Love like Him. Compassion doesn’t just pour out of me like that. If anything, it’s squeezed out, wrung out. Drops of compassion. That’s the most I’ve got – and that’s on a good day. No, I don’t Love well but I’m thankful that He more than compensates for my failures. I don’t Love well, but I desire to. And I trust that He will honor that desire and teach me to Love like Him, to see people, to pour out compassion.

I hate being interrupted. In conversations, on vacation, during a daydream.

As I sit here thinking, writing, a lump forms in my throat. As He interrupts my rant on how I so despise interruptions, something suddenly comes to mind: If He hadn’t interrupted my selfish and vain pursuits… if He hadn’t interrupted my heartache and pain… if He hadn’t interrupted my guilt and shame… if He hadn’t interrupted the booze, the parties, the boys… if He hadn’t so inconveniently interrupted my train wreck of a life…

I shudder.

Thankfully, I don’t know the end of that train of thought. Thankfully, I never will.

Sweet Jesus, thank You for taking note of me. For seeing me. As a sheep without a shepherd. Thank You for Your patient and tender shepherding of my soul. Thank You for being the perfect example. Lord Jesus, I confess: I don’t Love like You do. But I so desire to. Help me, Lord. Expand my heart, increase its capacity to hold a Love like Yours – to pour out a Love like Yours. Thank You, Jesus, for interrupting my life with Your Love, Your Truth. God, I ask that You would interrupt my life more and more – with people, with needs, with opportunities. Less of me. More of You – interruptions and all. In Jesus Christ’s most precious name, I pray.

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