Just as I was stretching after a more strenuous workout a couple weeks ago, looking forward to an overdue shower (I’m a stay-at-home mom; don’t judge), I was listening to the washing machine making its last couple of spins before finishing the first load of the day and mentally checking off my day’s to-do list. Then it happened: the power went out. I’ve been living in the mountains for over 8 years now, so I’ve grown accustomed to minor power outages that take less than an hour to fix. After waiting some time, I called the power company and found out it would be a couple hours. Then a couple more.
Most of my morning plans were delayed indefinitely in an instant. I realize not being able to do my laundry and take a hot shower are such first-world problems. I mean, I could just as easily have gone another day without a shower (which I love to do, just so I don’t have to change out of my sweats; don’t judge) and postponed laundry until tomorrow (which I also love to do, since it means another day I don’t have to fold and put away stuff; don’t judge). Even without power, I can still flush the toilet, make a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and even check the internet on my phone. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
But this blip in my day’s plans got me thinking about other blips that happen in our lives. What about those moments when our day is derailed by illness, accidents, unexpected events and visitors and other minor inconveniences? Here I am, a couple weeks after the power outage with a different blip changing the course of my day: a sick son. We all have things that need to get done and are being pulled in many different directions, but sometimes stuff just steps in and redirects our day. What then?
I think of the story that’s one of a handful taught at every women’s event since the beginning of time: Mary and Martha. Just in case you’ve missed it, Mary and Martha are sisters who welcome Jesus into Martha’s home. Martha, recognizing the importance of the event, is hurried trying to get everything done for the dinner she’s preparing. Mary, recognizing the importance of the visit, sits at Jesus’s feet and listens to him. Martha is frustrated by her sister (since I’m sure this slacking has been happening since Mary was born; Martha’s clearly the older child by her bossiness) and tells Jesus, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” (Luke 10:40)
But he doesn’t.
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42)
Martha had good plans to serve Jesus. I’m sure everything was meticulously prepared, but she forfeited the most amazing thing in the process. She almost missed the mind-blowing fact that the Lord of the universe was sitting in her home, speaking words she needed to hear. In trying to keep everything on track, she almost missed his invitation to simply connect with him while she could.
I get so entrenched in my plans for the day that I tend to miss what is going on right in front of me. Yes, I have plans for today, good plans, things that need to happen to keep this household in reasonable order. God has plans for my day, too, better plans, things that really need to happen in light of the big picture.
When my plans get derailed, sometimes it’s God’s plans breaking in to my world. Sometimes it just reminds me that I can plan out everything and life happens to mess it all up. Whatever the cause (sacred or mundane) I’m invited to look at my life from a different perspective in those blips. I’m invited to ask the question:
What can I see now that my day’s plans are derailed?
Some time ago, I read an author who said we get so focused on our agenda that we wouldn’t even notice a burning bush if it appeared before us, as Moses experienced, or Jesus sitting on our living room, as Martha did. A blip can clear away the brush, so that the burning bush (aka, what God wants us to see and hear in this moment) is unmistakable.
Without my usual distractions when the power went out, I saw freedom to change my routine, to let certain things go for a bit. I saw the opportunity to wrestle with my son a little longer, to pack a bag of stuff to give away, to let the chores remain undone a little longer (the world wasn’t going to end!). Today, with a sick toddler, it was the chance to sit and be present with him: to hold him and rock him in the sunlight on the porch. Nothing super life-changing, but opportunities of life-giving for myself and others.
No, blips aren’t always fun, definitely not always expected, but they can be a gift if we open our eyes to see them in a different light. May your next blip be transformed into a life-giving moment as you see things from a different perspective.