How easily we can get upended or diverted on our way to somewhere. It would be lovely if it happened rarely, but that would not be true for many of us. It can happen going from one room to another, one task to another. We don’t even need to get into our cars and type in the address on our GPS to get lost. It seems to happen for dozens of reasons and sometimes no reason at all that we can discern.
For some of us it is a bane to our existence, but others of us either go with the flow or gave up on purposefulness a long time ago after too many detours with no forward movement.
“What seems true is that something in life, on the highways or in our hearts, is always being installed, or being repaired, or being torn down for the next installation. Or the mess of the repair or tear-down is being cleaned up and cleared out.”Anne Lamott in Small Victories
These sorts of things disorient us, and we find ourselves diverted. Even without such significant things as those Anne Lamott writes, phones ring, people need us, illness strikes, and the long list waits to sabotage us the next day despite all our good intentions. Of course, there are the things that are inside of us that do an equally good job.
How often do these words resonate with you? – But I really meant to… (No show of hands needed.) Our good intentions will never be enough because rhythms get upended and life keeps happening.
“Here is the one tiny problem with intentions: There are always uninvited voices and obstructions, nattering and nipping and whining and tugging at you. Always.”Anne Lamott in Small Victories
Perhaps we have forgotten that all of this natural world is made up of patterns and rhythms that may seem to be disrupted and yet go on. They are so common that if we lose sight of the wonder of many of them and what they might reveal about life itself were we to tune in to the Author of Life.
Some nights, some times of darkness, can be so intense and daunting that we cannot grasp the reality of a daybreak or a movement toward light. Yet every morning reminds us of how light chases after darkness to defeat its hold on us.
“We never get used to it. Daybreak is always a surprise. There are times, of course, when we fail to respond. But when that happens we instinctively know that it is due to a deficiency within ourselves, whether from disease or depression. If the repetitions in nature are never boring, how much less the repetitions in God.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
But that points to the issue, doesn’t it? Are there repetitions in God in our life? Is He a footnote to our day, week, month or even year or is He the heading from which each of those begins? Do we oblige to what we think is important on one day of the week or do we recognize He is life itself moment by moment?
The answer to those questions will reveal a great deal about how prevalent diversions upend us.
The life of Christ gives us a glimpse of purposefulness that was often interrupted. Yet those interruptions were also purposeful on behalf of others in ways that highlighted the truth of who He was and is. Christ knew well his mission and goal and was not diverted but was never rigid about his moments spent here. His priorities never wavered. His movement was ever forward and upward toward the Father’s purpose.
Long before Stephen Covey identified the habits we would all need to know that would help us grow and develop toward effectiveness, Christ understood. He began with the end in mind and put first things first. We falter on that time and time again. Even when we think we are good at long-term planning, most of us look at the next level academically or professionally or even retirement as the “end in mind.” And we hear that from financial planners across the board whose advice is not poor but fails to recognize the more eternity focused the end is and should be. What would happen if we changed that?
“Here, then, is the clue to our erratic life patterns, our inconstancy, our unfaithfulness, our stupid inability to distinguish fashion and faith: we don’t rise up early and listen to God. We don’t daily find a time apart from the crowd, a time of solitude and silence, for preparing for the day’s journey.”Eugene Peterson in Run with the Horses
And there you have it – the key to the long view toward eternity lived out each day – daily time apart with God. That long view takes into account there will be unplanned interruptions along the way, things we had not seen when we mapped things out. That long view will undergird our choice of that time apart each day as a requirement for the journey of that next moment or day because it will provide provision for what we do not know we will even need.