You want to know my biggest pet peeve?
It's being interrupted. I can't stand being in the middle of something and then pulled in a different direction whether that's in my words or my actions. I don't like it when I'm listening to my favorite song and someone interrupts it with their own interjection. Heck, I don't like it if I see the text bubble pop up before I'm done typing my own message.
I don't know what it is about them, but I don't handle them well. My ears get warm, my face turns red, and my hands get a little sweaty. Usually, I have a snippy comment locked loaded and ready to pull the trigger post interruption.
Then last week as I'm listening to my favorite podcast on a walk the host says something that stops me dead in my tracks.
"The true version of yourself is who you are when you get interrupted. "
I laughed out loud and asked myself, 'Am I really a hot headed, short tempered, quick to speak... uh oh. '
If you would ask my endearing husband what top three words he would use to describe me, I can guarantee you that missing from that list would be patient, level headed, or even tempered. (You're off the hook for that one hunny, it's called self awareness.) In my justification of trying to decide who in the world likes being interrupted, I came to one conclusion, and his name is Jesus.
In Luke 5 Jesus is teaching to a crowd in a building when 2 men literally crawl through the ceiling to get to him and ask for help.
How about that moms, you're enjoying your morning coffee when your children bust through dry wall just to get to you. I bet it feels like that sometimes.
Or in Mark 5, Jesus spends the morning healing a demon possessed man only to set out on a boat to go to the other side of a lake, to be greeted by yet another crowd hoping to gain something from him.
Ever feel like you put out one fire just to move on to the next one?
Last one, and I'm sure you've heard this, but when Jesus fed 5,000 you've been missing part of the story.
Verse 30 of Mark 5
"The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat."
Spoiler alert: They do not get to rest.
The rest of the story goes on to say that while they are sneaking off to said quiet place, they get recognized and the disciples look to Jesus and ask what the heck they are supposed to do with all these people. Jesus's response.
"You feed them."
This is hilarious. You have 12 grown men, who are servants to Jesus. Who come back so pleased with themselves for the teaching they've done all day. Jesus finally lets them off the hook for their lunch break, and just as they are about to start eating, they look up and Jesus gives them a little "ahem."
Jesus saw the huge crowd and he did not turn away, he did not get angry, he did not ask them to leave, instead "he had compassion on them," and told the disciples to get busy, and the rest is history.
Jesus got interrupted all. the. time.
He healed, he taught, and he fed. He had compassion.
Interruptions in Jesus's life were not getting in the way of anything. In fact, he used them as opportunity. Some of his biggest and most well known miracles are a result of him being interrupted by someone.
The true version of yourself is who you are when you're interrupted.
Do my words heal after being interrupted?
Do I bring value to the conversation after being interrupted?
Do I feed others with a life giving presence after being interrupted?
Am I Jesus?
No, no, no, and definitely not no, not even close.
But could I try a little harder?
I sure could.
Right now, all of us are experiencing a major interruption. Some of our lives are completely on hold, our plans have been put on pause, and any sense of a schedule has been thrown out the window. It's like Jesus tapped you on the shoulder and said "Ahem?"
In His world, whether the interruption was small, or something like being expected to feed 5,000 people, Jesus taught. He healed, and he fed them with compassion.
So, who are you when you get interrupted?
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-4
Sounds insensitive doesn it?
I thought so too.
Each morning as I’ve been combing through scriptures and sermons, all I hear is the word, ‘Joy,” and it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel natural, it doesn't even feel good at this point. How in earth can I be joyful in a time like this.
But it’s all I hear.
As I’m going through Phillipians, Paul is writing to his congregation from a jail cell. I don’t know all of the context, but I know he’s been there for a while, and I know it’s not like the prisons we have today. Think cave, wet, minimal food, if any, and guards with no expectations to keep you alive.
And all he can talk about is joy.
I kind of feel like I’m in a jail cell lately, this is not a difficult metaphor to relate too. The last public place I was in was 15 days ago. I go to the grocery store every 10 days, and that’s about it. You’re probably sitting in the same boat.
It’s hard to find joy in these circumstances, and yet sitting from a true prison, it’s all Paul has.
Paul doesn’t have Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, he doesn’t have books, podcasts, a family, puzzles, board games, food, a pet, he has nothing.
So why joy? Why am I even opening this can of worms?
Because Joy is an act of resistance.
Gratitude is an act of resistance.
Anxiety, fear, anger, they are all valid, but they will get you nowhere, especially in times like these.
So I say again,
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
Because in joy, we find the peace and presence of God
“Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus giving thanks through him to God the father. Colossians 3:19
Or maybe here is one you’ve heard before. “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything,”
Here’s the part that always gets overlooked.
“Tell God what you need, and THANK him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
Joy and gratitude as resistance is NOT an act of indifference. Or ignorance. Or just plain insanity.
Instead, you mix the three of them together. That’s right. Anxiety, Joy and Gratitude all sit hand and hand.
Anxiety is a kind of grasping for control of what we do not have in the future. Gratitude is giving thanks for what we do have in the present.
Read it again.
We are not in control of any of this. We must stop creating outcomes we have no control over.
All we know is that today we are okay.
So joy and gratitude as resistance puts you in the present. Because today we are not in prison.
We are in our homes. We are hopefully warm and dry. Currently, I’m sitting next to my husband. Today I plan on starting a new book. Maybe we will cook something together. My dog Koda and I took a lovely walk in the early Saturday morning gloom. And for today that’s enough.
And tomorrow it will be enough again.
So fellow readers, I will leave you with this.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10”
Consider it joy, and watch the narrative change.
Lately, things have been pretty loud, huh?
And I don't just mean in the media, the grocery store, or family group chats with hour by hour updates, I mean it's been pretty loud in my own head.
The modern world is facing something we haven't seen before, and while the world has seen epidemics and pandemics, these kinds of things haven't yet happened within the parameters of the 24/7 news cycle.
But what if I told you, you can turn down the volume? Maybe even press the mute button for a little while?
We weren't created for this.
We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning, and to destroy false arguments. - 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
Right now you may have two thoughts. One being, "Really Alyssa, an analogy of war in times like these?" or the other being, "I don't need a sermon right now." To both I answer, just hang with me for a second.
God is good, and peaceful, and just, and right, and sovereign, and He is so much more than the adjectives listed above which is why He's not the one in question right now.
There's an age old battle, that was waged long before any of us were even a thought, and long before this pandemic, and will be still be fought long after this is over.
Want to know what the war is for?
It's for your attention, and your body, and mind, heart and soul. Because ultimately, what you think about is who you are.
Where has your attention been this past week? Has it been glued to the news? Has it been glued to your social media channels? Has it been focused on the politics of this all?
Where has your body been? In sweat pants all day? Have you left the couch? Have you gotten fresh air? Have you drank water?
And finally your heart? Where has your heart been? I'll let you fill in that blank.
There's a better way to get through this, and a better way to get through whatever else life throws your way after this is all said and done.
So take captive your thoughts! Take them back and own what you're thinking about.
Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise worthy, think about such things - Philippians 4:8
How does this change the narrative?
Your attention- is it on truth?
Is God who He says He is right now? Yahweh the compassionate and gracious God who is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love for the thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin?
Is that what we are thinking about?
Our bodies. Are our eyes seeking goodness, are our hands helping others, are our mouths speaking true, noble, and just words?
And your heart? Well...
Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows through it.-
This. This is what I'm clinging too like a buoy in the middle of the sea.
This is not to say we stick our heads in the sand. We don't ignore trials and tribulations, and we don't pretend that reality isn't what it is.
Instead, this shapes our thoughts to help create a more quiet reality, one with peace for ourselves and compassion for others.
It helps turn down the volume when things get too loud.
Thoughts are our volume knob, and truth is the mute button.
So take captive your thoughts because life is what you think it is.
To express, explain, and exclaim the lessons life continually throws at me, and my take on how to deal.