In the great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his followers on how to handle disagreements with one another. From this teaching, we can identify another spiritual exercise that can enrich our lives and our relationships during this Lenten season.
The teaching goes like this,
if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5:23-24 ESV)
While this teaching is specifically directed at reconciliation, I believe the spiritual exercise we can glean goes far beyond one application. What is being encouraged here is to be willing to be interrupted from almost anything we are doing in order to pay attention to something that is more important.
What This Means for Us
Our lives often revolve around set patterns we have established in order to make order out of chaos. Some of these patterns take on the nature of rites and rituals. We get our coffee in the morning and read a few news headlines. We take the same route to work. We hang out with the same people. We have an evening ritual of preparing for bed.
Nothing wrong with any of this, except that it can be difficult to get our attention around something that is seeking us, calling us.
According to Jesus' teaching, we can be right in the middle of the most sacred ritual possible -- that of worship of God -- and still miss what God might be trying to tell us. Listen to those interruptions, he seems to be saying. Allow for our "shows" to be interrupted by a message from our sponsor. There may be something more important, more pressing. A call to life. Don't miss it.
What does your worship or sacred time look like? How can you make room within it to listen more carefully to what life may be calling you to do?
When was the last time you got an interruption in the middle of something important -- or at least it seemed important? How did you respond? Did you resent the interruption or welcome it as a potential message from God? What was the outcome?
How do you respond when your daily rituals are disrupted? How can you deepen your awareness of what larger priorities God might be asking you to cultivate?