I run a tight diary. In a rather retentive way. I'm the sort of person who feels like they have missed a flight every time I don't start work by the minute that I have designated. Even though no one is overseeing when I start and it makes no difference in the long run! I generate personal temporal stress.
I have experienced some healing in this over the years. I used to be worse. I used to set absolute times for everything. I'd make sweeping statements like "We have to leave for holiday by eleven?" There was no reason why we had to leave by them. Traffic would be no different. The destination would be the same distance away. The journey would be equally tiresome. But rather than accepting these facts, I'd generate loads of stress at the start of the week I had set for relaxation, by demanding that we left by 11am!
The problem I find is that not everyone appears to have read my diary. People keep turning up at the most inconvenient times. Can't they plan their crises to come at moments convenient to me? I am busy writing a sermon all about God's love to us in Christ here! I'm just working on some particularly hard hitting application about how we should love each other more. And then the blasted door bell goes, I lose my train of thought, and there's someone who wants to chat.
Occasionally I spot the irony of this. God in His kindness interrupts me with someone in such difficulty that even an oaf like me can see that what I am doing can wait. That happened today. Someone came into the King's Centre who was clearly distressed. With others I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting to her. I was hugely thankful for the church family that I am a member of. Someone knew what are options were professionally. Someone held her hand so naturally as she talked, that she knew she was loved. Someone was able to help get her home. I think that between us we might have helped her a little.
But at the same time she was a great help to me. Because in the middle of a day when I was congratulating myself on the efficiency of my paper work, she smashed in, grabbed my attention and reminded me that Christian ministry is about people. People with all their mess. People who take time when you don't want to give it. People who don't get fixed, but need patient and persevering love. People who might never lead your youth group, nor play in your band. People who turn up struggling. People who in their need bless us.
The apostle Paul said this about his ministry in Ephesus:
'In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”' (Acts 20:35)
I pray that I might be moved to minister in the same way. What about you?