Summary: Serving others when they need help is distracting, but it is our calling; it is draining, but not depleting ... rather it is empowering.
The trouble with my "honey-do" list is, it is much too complicated for my limited brainpower! How am I supposed to remember all the things I am expected to do? How am I supposed to keep it all straight? 3
I am about to walk out the front door, and I hear: “Oh, you’re going out to make a hospital visit? That reminds me that I have a prescription at the drugstore; could you get it for me? And speaking of the store, could you go to the grocery and get some milk (skim, not 2%) and some bread (pita wheat, salt-free, low calorie light, not whole grain, and not the house brand, because it’s not on sale), and some dog food (remember that Chloe likes sliced chicken, not ground beef, and Scruffy prefers gourmet delight)? And speaking of delight, would you please climb up back here, right back here, and replace de-light that’s burned? And speaking of my back, it hurts and could you massage it before you go?"
Yeah, right. Sure, no problem. Off I go, with this string of assignments rattling around in my brain. Do I have it all straight? Sure I do! So why am I in trouble when three hours later I come back with exactly what she asked for: ice cream (gourmet select); and a chicken pot pie; and low calorie dog biscuits? Wasn’t that it? And why am I in trouble just because I stood at the drugstore counter and was completely unable to tell the clerk why I was there? Why am I in deep, deep trouble because it’s now so dark in the family room that you can’t see the family? I massaged your aching back, didn’t I? Got something right, didn’t I?
Too many details; too many expectations. Most of us live with multiplied demands. Most of us put up pressure on us from all sides. Some of us tolerate it very well, and never lose our cool. Others of us prefer to do one thing at a time and get it done before we start something else. For us, life is full of interruptions. It’s hard to stay on the path and just do what you planned to do.
A typical scene here in your church office. It’s Wednesday morning, and we’re getting started on the day. I’ve come in with a list of projects to discuss with our church secretary. I stand in front of her desk and launch into an explanation of some task: "Now notice that we are going to have to be very careful right here ... " The phone rings. I cool my heels while someone transacts a piece of business. The call is finished. "Okay, LoLinda, as I was saying, right here is a very tricky piece of typing ... " Somebody is at the door.
You come in, we exchange greetings, you wanted to ask me a couple of questions. Of course I stop and respond to those questions. Then, back to LoLinda: "Now, where was I? Oh, yes, right here in this document, notice how we have put in right at this place ... " There’s a bang on the back door, and the first wave of Wednesday Club guests have to be let in. By now I have forgotten what I was trying to say, and LoLinda has figured it out anyway. Interruptions. Hard to stay on the path and just do what you planned to do. Can you identify with that?
There are two spiritual issues here. The spiritual issues of distraction and drain. Feeling distracted and feeling drained. When we feel pressure from those who want a piece of us, we feel distracted, diverted from what we think we really ought to be doing. And then we feel drained; responding to what others want us to do tires us out, drains us. But today I want to look at the positive side of all this. I want us to see how, if we are meeting human needs, there is another way to look at feeling distracted and drained.
One day Jesus was pursuing His mission. As we learned last week, he had been urged by Jairus, the prominent leader of the synagogue, to come and help Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter, who was dying. We watched as Jesus responded to the passionate pleas of a father, willing to sacrifice his dignity, set aside his inhibitions, and just pray out his heart. Jesus was more than ready to respond; the agenda for His day had been set out clearly. He knew exactly what His plans for the day were.
But something interrupted Him. Someone moved to distract and drain Him.
On His way to Jairus’ house, Jesus was pulled aside. The crowds pressed in on Him. They wouldn’t leave Him alone. They wanted a piece of Him, right now. Not tomorrow, no, right now. In fact, no, not even right now; they want it yesterday! Scratch me where I itch. Massage me where I ache. Me. Now.