I almost always keep my iPhone on “do not disturb” mode. I’m easily distracted, so it helps guard my mind from the unending notifications coming from text messages, ESPN updates, news headlines, and the like. Luckily, though, Apple Inc. also gives me the option of putting contacts in my “Favorites,” allowing their calls to come through even when I’m on “do not disturb.” This is reserved for a select group of people. We all have people whose calls we would hate to miss. These are people who mean the most to me and will likely have something important that they need or want to say when they call. They have earned one of the greatest honors I have the power to bestow on people – the ability to interrupt me.
Interruptions come in many forms. I can think back to so many occasions where I’ve sat down to read and had a text notification come through on my watch. I think to myself that it will just take a second to respond, then unknowingly find that half my allotted reading time was just spent mindlessly scrolling memes on Instagram. With half of my time gone, it seems almost pointless to read now. Better that I put it off until later, when surely I’ll have more free time to focus and really dive deep into the book. We all know what happens later – an offer from a friend to hang out or an extra episode (or five) of The Office, and my reading time has now officially been moved to tomorrow.
Knowing we can all fall victim to such circumstances, we have to enact “do not disturb” mode, or similar tricks, to place boundaries around our time and attention. However, we also know these boundaries can become excessive when taken to the extreme, which is why we have things like the list of favorites in our contacts. We know that some things are worthy of breaking through our plans and taking our attention by force. Some things are just that important. Some people are just that important.
Is God that important to you?
Does Jesus have your permission to interrupt your day?
All too often, we try to avoid people who want something from us. This is likely why we strive to avoid eye contact with the homeless man on the street or the horribly annoying woman trying to get us to try some eye cream at a mall kiosk. We assume they just want to take our time and money, without giving anything desirable in return. I think people avoid contact with God for the same reasons. We often push God out of our lives because we know He will eventually demand something from us. He wants our time, our money, our talents. He wants our whole being to be dedicated to Him. That’s a large order. Because He wants all of these things, He doesn’t make it into most people’s list of Favorites.
I had this realization as I was watching a live stream of Pope Francis’s holy hour and his urbi et orbi blessing. To be honest, I had pretty much zoned out after about twenty minutes of the event. He was praying/speaking in either Italian or Latin, with no English subtitles or translation. I figured there wasn’t much for me to gain from it, so I began checking emails. About 15 minutes later, I finally realized that it had been silent for some time. I glanced at the screen and saw the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a beautiful monstrance, with the Holy Father in the background deep in prayer. I paused and sat there for a moment. I closed my laptop and just sat there and spoke with Jesus. I had already gone on a prayer walk that morning and planned to do a rosary and stations of the cross later that afternoon, so I really didn’t plan on sitting in silence during this thing, but I felt Jesus calling out to me to just spend some time with Him.
It was a beautiful experience. I sat there quietly, admiring Jesus along with Pope Francis and millions of other Catholics throughout the world. In that moment, I realized how badly God wants to interject Himself into our lives and how often we deny Him entry. I’ve invited many people to mass or to prayer with me over the years. Sometimes we have legitimate reasons to do something else, but other times you can tell that God just isn’t a priority to people. Our bosses, Instagram, emails, among many other things can always steal our time, but God? He’s going to have to wait. I don’t have time for Him right now. Work, grocery shopping, walking the dog, making dinner, or whatever task is currently at hand is far too important to stop and spend a moment with the Lord.
I stopped, then, and spent a moment asking God to make me aware of the times in my own life that I’ve failed to make time for Him or allow Him to interrupt my day. I often pray that my relationship with God will be the most important one in my life, and I do believe that can be measured by how much authority I give Him to interrupt my life.
The most important people in my life are given the most permission to interrupt me. This list is decided by a number of factors. My mom is on the list because she has known me and loved me longer and more deeply than anybody I know. My boss is always on the list because I desire his approval and want to be readily available to do what he needs done. But who has known me longer and loved me more than my God has? Do I not desire God’s approval above that of man? Do I want to be readily available to serve God as he sees fit?
This idea was solidified further when I dared to ask myself, what else do we do for those we love most?
We put pictures of them up in our house. We seek to stay in touch with them as often as possible through a number of different means. We buy them gifts and do whatever they need to be done through acts of service. We affirm them for their worth and express gratitude for having them in our lives. We seek to spend time with them in their physical presence. We desire what’s best for them to the point that we would sacrifice our own will and well-being in order to bring that to life.
How does what you do for God stack up against these, relatively common, acts?
I have had many times where a boss, a girlfriend, a family member, or even a task, hobby, or TV show has been far prioritized over the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I do it almost every single day. I choose to watch YouTube or scroll the news before I pray or read some Scripture. I choose conversations with friends over time in the chapel. I choose to sleep in rather than show up to church early for prayer. I choose to make work more urgent and important than connecting with God.
I know that the extraordinary happens when God is brought into the ordinary. I know miracles take place when we fully trust in God and place Him first and foremost in our lives. I’ve heard the stories of Mother Teresa increasing the sisters’ prayer time from one hour to two in times of overwhelming workloads and pressure. I know she watched miracles happen as she gave more time to God and less time to the things of this world. But right now, I don’t need a miracle. Right now, I need to finish this project. I need to respond to this email. I need to text this person back. I need to watch just one more YouTube video. I need to make sure everything is just right. I don’t need to bring God into this moment. I just need some time to get things done. I can do this on my own. I’ll get to God later.
I don’t want to live like that. I have already learned the hard way that when Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing,” He meant it. I want Jesus to be the #1 person in my life. I want to display that both inwardly and outwardly. I want pictures of Him in my house. I want to stay in touch with Him as much as possible through a number of different means (prayer, the Bible, the sacraments, the Rosary, etc.). I want to present Him with gifts through my tithing and serve Him in whatever ways He wants. I want to express my gratitude and affirm His central position in my life. I want to prioritize spending time in His physical presence in tabernacles around the world. I want to sacrifice my own will and even well-being for the sake of His Kingdom.
Jesus is not some annoying mall salesman trying to get you to buy a facemask you’ll later regret spending $60 on. He does want your time and everything you’ve got, but what He promises to give in return is something far greater than we could ever imagine. He commands us to spend time with Him. He commands us to make Him the center of all that we do and all that we are. This demands sacrifice.
When was the last time you did something sacrificial for God?
If you believe Jesus suffered and died for you, give him the opportunity to interrupt you. Jesus is calling out to you, eagerly waiting to show you His great mercy and love.
Will you answer the call of Jesus today?
Nathan Crankfield was born and raised in Harrisburg, PA. He converted to Catholicism at age 13, becoming the first Catholic in his entire family. He graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD in 2015. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a US Army Infantry Officer. He served four years Active Duty during which he graduated from Airborne School, was awarded his Ranger Tab, and deployed to Afghanistan. Nathan now serves as a parish consultant at the Dynamic Catholic Institute and is the founder of Seeking Excellence. His work can be found at https://www.thosewhoseek.