Busyness is a prerequisite to American middle-class life. We learn early that success falls most frequently into the lap of the overworked. Thus, the rhythm of busyness is the metronome we order our days by. Each moment marks a point on the path towards success. The more we do — the more thickly we fill the space between each beat of the metronome — the more successful we are.
But what happens when God speaks off-rhythm? Does the busyness framework we’ve adopted as average Americans leave any space for divine interruption? Hardly. In fact, I believe that dedication to busyness has become one of the primary barriers in Western culture to responding to the voice of God.
We are so shackled to productivity and what seem to be necessary activities that we often meet God’s interrupting voice with excuses. We don’t have enough time. We are too busy. We have too many responsibilities already.
This response is, of course, logical. Life, especially the increasingly complex modern life, is full of necessary pursuits. Accepting an interruption does pose real risk. Yet how logically did Christ live while He served on earth? Instead of insisting on what was “necessary,” He responded immediately to divine interruptions, however illogical they seemed.
Matthew 9 illustrates this attitude of availability. As Jesus followed a distraught ruler to his house to heal his dying daughter, He felt a hand touch His cloak. Though from a human perspective, Jesus’ circumstance called for intense hurry (the girl would die if He didn’t come soon enough), Jesus responded immediately to the interruption, sensing the divine voice. In a moment when hurry seemed most essential, He stopped.
How could He stop? How could He move restfully into an interruption when He was in the middle of a desperate mission for a desperate man? Jesus could stop because He knew the God who interrupted Him. He knew that God is never desperate, for He is not restricted to time as we are. God could heal the sick in the moments before death. But He could also raise the dead in the moments after. Thus, Christ relied fully upon God, ready at all times to respond to divine interruption with restful obedience.
The God Christ trusted has not changed. As we move through some of the busiest years of our lives in a culture that embraces busyness as essential to success, we have a special opportunity to trust His changeless provision. While our college years are intended to be full of diligent study, the lessons we must learn extend beyond our classes.
Here, we get to practice the lesson of trusting God with time. He may interrupt us frequently — a friend may need to talk, a service project may request more volunteers, a sibling may go through a crisis — but each time we risk accepting the interruption, we will find that beyond divine interruption lies abundant provision. And with each terrifying step of faith, we will cultivate a habit of availability that extends into our careers, families and churches.
The world doesn’t need busy Christians. It needs available Christians. Let’s embrace the secret of restful service that Christ described in John 4:34: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” Surely, we will find His food to be sufficient.