“Now the LORD appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.”
Genesis 18:1-3 NASB
I was challenged by Abraham’s willingness to be interrupted. It was in the heat of the day — when he’s finally taking a bit of rest, when it’s too hot to work, when it’s inopportune — that the Lord visits him. And instead of putting Him off, Abraham goes out of his way to make the Lord comfortable. He quickly runs to and fro to attend to his special Guest.
And this must have been an atmosphere that Abraham cultivated at home: he hears no argument from his wife, who was likely in the middle of preparing dinner for her family, when he asks her to drop everything and make an extra meal. And he hears no argument from a servant when he tells him to quickly go kill a choice calf.
What an attitude! No matter how inconvenient, Abraham sprung into action. It spoke to me of having a willingness to be interrupted, to not be so fixated on my own plans that God can’t allow a distraction or inconvenience or conviction or interruption to come across my path.
I’ve found He often comes in the heat of the day, when we are not “expecting company,” so to speak. How do I respond when He interrupts or asks something inconvenient of me?
“Would you mind to come back later?”
“Now’s not really a great time...”
I got a call the other day, at what felt like the worst possible time, and I took it, without total peace in my heart. And the Lord showed me moments after I hung up: “You aren’t jumping at the opportunity to serve, to have your plans messed up, to be inconvenienced.”
I long for this heart: “Don’t pass me by!” And it challenged me to see my lack as evidence that I cherish the Lord’s nearness far too little. Isn’t it the highlight of my day when He drops by?
Interruptions Reveal What We Love
Imagine if, unbeknownst to you, your best friend from childhood, or high school or college, someone who you really treasure, arrived at your doorstep. You haven’t seen him or her in years.
Do you apologize that you can't be bothered because you’re busy tidying up? Or explain that you've got errands to run? Even if you already had dinner plans, you’d cancel them!!
Why? For love!!
So when there’s a need, why am I so deeply inconvenienced? The same reason: for love of my plans, for love of my system.
And the Lord wants to come in the heat of the day and “mess with” that. And He wants to see: do I have a “drop everything” mentality? It says Abraham “hurried” (v6) and “ran” (v7) and “hurried” some more (v7). I’m sure Abraham started the day with a to-do list, which I’m sure was prepared in all diligence. We know nothing whatsoever about anything else Abraham was doing that day.
But Abraham sprung to service at the Lord’s interruption. He even killed a tender and choice calf - God wants to see, when He shows up, is there anything precious I’m unwilling to sacrifice? Will I give Him the best?
We may say, “Lord, send me anywhere! I’m ready to move! I’ll go to the darkest jungles for You!”
But He may very well respond, “Send you anywhere?!? I can’t even send you anyone! You can’t be bothered! You can’t be interrupted. Your plans are so precious.”
Oh for such a longing to be pleasing to the Lord that we are willing to lead an interruptible life!
It wasn't just Abraham! The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus' interruptibility. He was so interruptible that, in the middle of a sermon, several men dug a hole in His roof (Mark 2:1-4)! On His way to heal Jairus' daughter, He cheerfully entertained an interruption by a woman with a severe health issue (Matthew 9:18-23). In fact, one of Jesus’ most famous miracles came as a result of His willingness to be interrupted.
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, and when he was killed, it grieved Jesus’ heart to such an extent that He sought to be alone with His Father. “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself...” Do you know what happens next, in the middle of Jesus' special time alone with His Father? The passage continues, “...and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:13-14). And after healing them, He doesn’t stop there. His disciples wanted to send them away because it was getting late, and folks needed to eat their dinner.
“But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish””(Matthew 14:16-17). We know how the story ends. But it’s amazing to see how the feeding of the five thousand began: with Jesus, grieving over His cousins’ killing, seeking to spend a moment alone; and yet, still willing to be interrupted.
What a challenge to me, especially as I find I can be most un-interruptible when I’m trying to get some time alone with God!! It’s amazing to see that Interruptibility is at the very heart of Christ.
Is it any wonder that when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his only son, the heir of the greatest inheritance on the earth, she would be marked by the same zeal to jump to serve?
“She said, “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink. Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.”
Genesis 24:18-20 NASB
Rebekah was simply going about her “family chores” that day. Who knows what else she might have had on her list, but even when she’s unexpectedly interrupted and asked for help, her attitude is remarkable: she didn’t lazily serve as a duty, doing the bare minimum. She diligently went above and beyond. Little did she know that the “big door” of marriage (let alone a once-in-a-generation-marriage!!), which she certainly desired, would swing on such a small hinge of cheerful service.
As I read her story, I felt my heart longing for the wisdom and grace to raise children who move quickly to serve, who run to go above and beyond, and who can be cheerfully interrupted. And I felt the Lord speak clearly to me: "If you want to raise such children, seek to be an interruptible father, yourself!"
Welcome My Children in Jesus’ Name
It’s easy to think, “but how can I welcome interruptions like Abraham did? He had the privilege of being visited by God Himself.”
Thankfully, Jesus makes it clear in the New Testament how we do actually have the opportunity to serve Him directly: “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Matthew 25:40 NASB
When I cheerfully welcome an interruption from even the least of my brothers in Christ, I am welcoming Him, just as Abraham at the tent door.
But the Lord takes it even a step further:
“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said... ‘Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.’”
Matthew 18:2, 5 NASB
What an incredible encouragement! When I am willing to be cheerfully interrupted by my children, I have the opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus Himself. The thing that’s truly amazing to me is, I have this opportunity countless times per day! And I was jealous of Abraham's "unique opportunity"?!? I'm sure he'd rather have my daily opportunity to welcome the Lord at the door of my tent.
Thank God for revealing that cheerfully welcoming interruptions and “receiving a child in Jesus’ name” (which means receiving them for His sake, considering Jesus, in the fear of God, and out of reverence for the dignity He has bestowed upon them as creatures made in His likeness) is the ultimate opportunity to welcome the Lord and serve the least. There are many such opportunities in the heat of every day, and I believe the Lord will help me to be clothed in the gentleness in humility of Jesus Christ, Who is the Ultimate Example of an interruptible life.