When others set our agenda.


Just about to get up this morning– and the phone goes. Who can this be at this time?  I take a deep breath to be greeted by a recorded message.  Intruder alarm at the Ministry Centre.

Intruder alarms are always a dilemma – as well as a pain.  I tell the monitoring service I will check in person – it’s now light and not the best time for burglars.

In such cases I drive down rather than walk.  Don’t expect any heroics.  Arriving, nothing to see.  Just this morning’s delivery of bread.

Back home, and start to think about this blog.

Then someone at the front door.  Jacqui has forgotten to go on her early morning walk – and so I raise her from her sleep.  Lazarus would have been easier.  (Actually, that’s a cheap joke – she jumped out of bed).

Quick conversation before they set off, about how to access Ancestry.com.  And now back to my keyboard, wondering about what to write.

But that’s life, one random event after another coming at us,  demanding our response.  Too many – and we become overwhelmed;  too few – and we can feel isolated.

It always strikes me how Jesus didn’t plan his day – he allowed people not just to claim his attention but even determine his programme.

Mark 5 is a good example.  He takes his disciples to the other side of Lake Galilee.  No sooner is he on dry ground in the region of the Gerasenes that he is accosted by this wild man living in the tombs.  Jesus gives him a full 18 verses of his time, not the most strategic choice you would think.

Then, at the request of the locals, he gets back into his boat and goes back.  You wonder what his disciples were thinking.

On his return  a large crowd gathers around him, presumably to hear him teach – Mark doesn’t say.

However, all this is interrupted by Jairus.  He wants Jesus to go to his house to heal his dying daughter – and so Jesus agrees to drop everything and go with him.

Then on the way and presumably with some urgency, Jesus stops and no doubt to Jairus’ total frustration has a conversation, a full nine verses, with some woman who has just touched one of his tassles,.   The chapter concludes with Jesus raising the 12 year old girl from death.

Clearly Jesus had a clear sense of direction, an overriding sense of purpose;  he didn’t drift.  After all he only had just under three years to complete his mission. But he made himself available and to all kinds of people.

Not always, you have to say.  At least on one occasion in Mark’s Gospel his disciples tracked him down with the news “Everyone is looking for you!”  Everyone may have been looking for him – but Jesus responds “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1:37f)

So how do we get the balance right, living a purposeful day and keeping our engagements while giving time and space for other people, particularly if what we are doing seems important, even urgent?

After all you are reading this blog now because I chose not to join Jacqui on her early morning walk.

Jesus explained his approach to his opponents. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.”  (John 5:19f)

At first sight this answer doesn’t’ seem to help.  It just replaces one question with another – so how do I see what the Father is doing?  But often the answer to a problem is knowing what question to ask.

Very simply we are to live moment by moment knowing that God as our Abba, our loving Father, is intimately involved in our lives.  Amazingly he wants to be engaged, to be trusted, even to be loved.  We look to him not just for our guidance but for his companionship.

And so we resolve to involve him, it can be as easy as that.  But it is a discipline.

It was Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, the Carmelite lay brother, who gave us “The Practice of the Presence of God,” learning to practice the ongoing presence of God in our daily routines.

“Lift up your heart to him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to him. You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we are aware of.”  And that makes all the difference.