A quick stop at the grocery store after a full day. I just needed a couple things before a party. But driving out of the unfamiliar neighborhood I was in, Google Maps got confused as per usual and sent me in a big circle. Then I got stuck behind every possible human out for their Sunday Afternoon Drive in the middle of a Saturday. I knew I was being delayed for something. I had assumed I was avoiding an accident or something of the sort. That’s happened more than once, after all. By the time I pulled into the maze that is the Kroger parking lot, I was flustered and over it. Speed walking into the store, I saw the familiar top half of a masked-up face walking out with a couple bags. We stopped and chatted in the parking lot for a minute or two, then I was on my way. I honestly don’t even remember saying goodbye to him. I do, however, remember almost running into the side of a car before making it safely inside. Not five minutes later, I dropped a box of raspberries in the checkout lane. “Clean up on Register 13.” Yeah, that was me.
Later I was reflecting on the day and felt super convicted. If I’m that rushed and flustered for a surprise visit with someone I actually like and want to see, how will God ever interrupt me for a stranger. How will I ever hear Him if I’m supposed to pray for the mom in the cereal aisle or stop at the edge of the parking lot to chat with the woman living out of her car?
I’ve been under the instruction to “make room” this year. God keeps repeating that. Even before I had heard the song, it was spoken to me in prophetic words and coming up in conversations with friends.
And I’ve taken that instruction seriously, trying to make room in all areas of my life. I started with the tangible: my physical space. I purged like you wouldn’t believe. Marie Kondo would probably tell me I went too far. And mind you, I had moved five times in three years, so I was filtering through my stuff pre and post packing, on the regular. But this season I bid farewell to an additional 12 or so trash bags and a Jeep-load of donated items. Basically my house is empty now. Only the necessities.
It’s been so cathartic though. A cluttered home is a cluttered brain. A tidy space means I’m not distracted in my prayer time with what needs to be put away. A clean home means I can create with freedom.
But what about my schedule?
COVID shutdowns slowed us all down last year. Have we put our busy badges of honor back on already?
As I’m writing this, I don’t have a single evening open for the next three weeks. So I’m mostly preaching to myself here when I say we need to make room for God to interrupt the moments of our days.
A couple weeks after my raspberry mess of a day, God very specifically told me to go back to Kroger. I was at a prayer meeting at church first thing in the morning, and felt like I couldn’t even hesitate to leave right after it was finished. There was no stopping to chat with friends, there was no passing Go. I busted out the door as fast as I could and drove straight to the store. Thank God I heard His voice and obeyed. As I was walking through the parking lot, in nearly the same spot as a few weeks prior, a sweet lady on her smoke break wished me a good morning and started talking to me. This time I paid attention to the encounter. I stilled my restless mind to hear the thoughts of God. And when I stopped to talk with her, God gave me some profound encouragement to speak into her and pray over her. I see her frequently and we pray together almost every time I’m at Kroger now.
A few days later, I found another opportunity. I had snagged my neighbor’s deliveries while she was out of town, and when I took them over to her, naturally we started chatting it up. I still had some work to finish before I headed to church that evening and was starting to feel rushed to wrap up our conversation. Getting to church on time is a good thing, right? But God stopped me in her kitchen and whispered one of those, “duh, I should have known that” reminders. We are the Church. At the end of service my pastor always says, “Service is over, but Church is not.” Getting to a church service mattered so much less in that moment than being able to love her and build community around her. She now attends my Co Group.
We ask God to use us, but we don’t want to be bothered. We have lofty dreams of rescuing kids from the trafficking industry, but we can’t break away from our sweet dreams and get out of bed to serve at our church’s early service. We want to travel the world preaching the gospel to stadiums of people but we won’t even look up from our phones to smile at the person sitting at the table next to ours at a coffee shop. We know we’re supposed to care for those experiencing homelessness, but, oh, that guy is just looking for money to buy alcohol. Surely Jesus didn’t mean him, right? We have a rooftop happy hour to get to. We pray for others to be interrupted to provide a room for a kiddo in the foster care system because we don’t feel “called.” Carrying the burden of loving a broken-hearted child is too hard. But then we don’t even want to make a simple extra stop on the way home from work when God prompts us to, because we’re tired and just want to crash on the couch in front of the tv. What if God wants you to scratch your dinner plans and pick up takeout from Panera Bread to pray and pay for the person behind you in line?
Our charge is to love others, to care for the widow and the orphan, to feed and clothe the homeless, to be the face of Jesus to a broken world. And we’re too busy. Our schedules are too full. We don’t allow God any room to interrupt us for His work. We box Him into our plans and expect Him to do what we want Him to do instead of the other way around.
I’m not saying any of this to condemn. Again, I’m preaching to myself. This space is literally named after the concept of redeeming our moments. So it should come as no surprise to me that I’m constantly being challenged in this area. My Planner Girl tendencies give me a semblance of control over my life, but God wants that control. He can do so much more with my time than I can. I’m simply here to invite you into this challenge with me.
It’s time for us to make time, to make room for God to move. He showed us how last year. Now it’s time to activate that slower pace. It’s time to decide to not be rushed. Jesus was never rushed, so neither should we be. Jesus always arrived right on time to encounter the exact right person, and so will we.
Lord slow us down. Open our eyes. Tell us to turn around or go a different route home or to walk into specific stores and restaurants. Lead us to encounter the people You’ve placed in our path and give us the words You want to speak to them. We set our preferences aside. We lay our schedules at your feet. We surrender our plans to You. Interrupt us with what You want to do today.