Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When God cancels our plans

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps--reading the Bible. When we do that we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that, not our way, but God's way must be done. It is a strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God's "crooked yet straight path" (Gottfried Arnold). They do not want a life that is crossed and balked. But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.

In the monastery his vow of obedience to the abbot deprives the monk of the right to dispose of his own time. In evangelical community life, free service to one's own brother takes the place of the vow. Only where hands are not too good for deeds of love and mercy in everyday helpfulness can the mouth joyfully and convincingly proclaim the message of God's love and mercy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

This is hard truth for those of us who like to stay on schedule and hate to be late. Ask my wife about that one. Bonhoeffer reminds me that pious activity can be a way of avoiding God's (and my brother's) call on my time. I'm blessed to have a pastor who always has time to be "interrupted by God." Those readers who know him I'm sure will agree that he's a shining example of one who faithfully follows God's "crooked yet straight path."

2 comments:

kansaicinbuns said...

This will be good for me to keep in mind this year, although I can't use busyness as an excuse. I think we met at a meeting for The Expositor's Seminary last spring...

Finding and reading quotes and excerpts is an enjoyable thing for me, so thank you for providing some through your blog.

Stephen Ley said...

Hey friend, it wasn't me that you met, but I'm glad you found my blog. Blessings on your ministry!