When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” – Mark 5:27-28
Sweat trickled down the backs of Jesus and his disciples. The crowd pressed close as the people pushed and shoved to get a better look at the Savior, the wonder worker. A man named Jairus, a synagogue ruler and father of a twelve-year-old girl, dropped at Jesus’ feet, begging him to come and heal his dying daughter.
The man was frantic. He knew his daughter’s life was hanging in the balance. Why wouldn’t the people step aside and allow Jesus to get to his house? Even minutes could mean the difference between life and death. Jesus inched his way through the crowd, but the pressing only increased.
Suddenly Jesus stopped in the middle of the road. The father frowned, wringing his hands and looking at the crowd as if searching for someone – anyone – to urge the people out of the way. All he could think of was his daughter’s life. He remembered first holding her as a tiny infant, and the joy that filled his heart as he looked into her eyes. He watched her take her first steps as she toddled out to embrace him one day, and he could still smell the first honey cake she baked proudly for him. Her mother had taught her well in the ways of a woman.
Where had the years flown? Before long, she might even be promised to one of the Jewish young men in their synagogue. A man was proud to have his own son. But it would also bring him pleasure for his daughter to marry a godly man who might become a synagogue leader himself – and a son to him in his old age.
But if Jesus didn’t hurry, his daughter would have no husband. And he would have no future son-in-law. He would have nothing but sorrow – and a daughter dead before her time.
Then Jesus spoke gently but firmly. “Who touched me?”
The disciples looked at one another in disbelief. “Not me,” each said. They reminded Jesus that the crowd was like a sea around them. There were probably many who bumped into Jesus. It couldn’t be helped.
But Jesus’ words contained a greater meaning: “Someone touched me: I know that power has gone out from me.” Not only did someone touch Jesus, that person touched his power intentionally. And Jesus knew it instantly.
Finally, a woman fell at Jesus’ feet. For twelve years she had suffered from hemorrhaging. No doctors had helped. She was not only poor, but a social outcast who could never be considered “clean” and whole. And her condition had only worsened. But touching the Master had brought the desired results. Something had happened to her, so she admitted the truth.
Jesus honored the faith of the woman and granted total healing. She could then return “in peace,” freed from her emotional, physical, and spiritual suffering (Mark 5:34).
But the distraught father had not found freedom. His emotions were still tied in knots. Then a messenger arrived, announcing it was too late. His daughter was dead. The woman’s interruption had cost Jairus his daughter’s life. “Why bother the teacher any more?” cried the messenger above the alarming wails of the crowd (Mark 5:35).
But to Jesus, life had no real interruptions. Not really. Oh, there were things that seemed like interruptions. Each time Jesus attempted to rest from the crowd’s press and cross to the other side of the lake, more people greeted him, crying out for help. The demon-possessed cursed at his name; the lame and the sick begged for mercy. Seekers wanted to know more; enemies tried to curtail his mission. Crises and needs followed Jesus like lambs seeking their mother’s milk.
But interruptions? Not to Jesus. Interruptions represented people. And people were his business. People were his purpose. Interruptions spelled opportunities to display his Father’s great power and love.
And in the grander scheme of things, interruptions never slowed Jesus down or aborted his purpose. Which would represent the greater miracle to the father and his family: healing the girl’s sickness or raising her from the dead? “The child is not dead but asleep,” Jesus said to the crowd of mourners at the man’s home (Mark 5:39). They erupted in laughter. But Jesus simply continued the work he had come to do, restoring the lost, healing the sick, glorifying his Father in whatever means that interruption afforded. And the girl lived again.
One can only wonder at Jesus’ deeper meaning. Even death is only an interruption, not the end of life as we know it.
I had one of “those” days recently. Three times the phone rang while I was working on a project I hoped would ultimately glorify my Father in heaven. Three times I hung up, a little too impatiently, ending the solicitor’s spiel. And then the phone rang a fourth time. I stared at it as if it was an unwelcome intruder. After all, I was doing God’s work—important stuff.
But God whispered to my heart, and I heard a gentle, “Not this time. Pick it up.”
I started to object, but by the third ring, I surrendered. I listened as patiently as I could, then politely tried to convince the caller that I was satisfied with my product. I simply wasn’t interested. And then I heard myself adding something totally off the wall: “But may I tell you something I am interested in?”
I shared my love for Jesus and what a wonder it was to know him and to write about him. Before I had finished, the caller was asking for prayer, and I learned the grander meaning of the word interruption.
Most of us would rather “let sleeping interruptions lie.” We don’t need them, and we don’t want them. They represent not opportunities, but obstacles to our ultimate goals. But the sooner we learn to enjoy interruptions for what they are—personally designed encounters from God to make his ways known—the more we will learn to enjoy this wonderful, creative God of Interruptions.
How we spend our time determines what we enjoy the most.
Lord, turn every interruption into an opportunity to share your love. Forgive me for sometimes confusing my priorities. Enjoying you means enjoying every day as a gift from you.
How do you handle interruptions?
People dislike most interruptions because it derails people from enjoying something (watching a movie, listening to music, kissing, eating, playing, etc.), or it derails a train of thought. Imagine your a writer who’s just gotten over that initial block and you’re really “in the zone”; interruptions spell disruption, “gettting lost”, etc. But there are some pleasant interruptions, too…toiling in the garden and then your spouse or child comes up and offers you a cold drink, maybe even wipe the sweat off your brow. Wouldn’t that be a pleasant interruption?
Interruption happen because of the complexity of human life, and the fact that our lives are intertwined, whether we like it or not. Some interruptions are opportunities in disguise…a call for help, asking for a sympathetic ear, perhaps even a word of advise or encouragement or affirmation. An opportunity to reach out and make a difference in the life of a fellow human being. Interruptions also allow us to address more pressing matters than the one we are currently occupied with. May God grant us patience when interruptions occur. Perhaps it is a call for help. Who knows, right?