Recently, my friend Julie and I were trying to make plans to share a meal. We texted back and forth all day before landing on a time that worked. Even though Julie and I care deeply about each other, we struggle to make time for one another. Anyone who’s tried to maintain friendship amid work stress, kids’ extracurriculars, church commitments, and travel knows that the forces of modern life work against long-lasting connection.
In the Gospels, we see that Jesus made Himself available to connection—even when it didn’t fit His plans. When Jairus pled with Jesus to come to his house to heal his daughter, Jesus agreed to go. On their way, Jesus was interrupted again, by a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. As the crowds were pressing against Him, Jesus stopped to engage her in conversation, declaring her healed through faith. Then He proceeded to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter. Jesus might have started that day with another plan in mind. But He forsook it in the face of profound human need.
I imagine that Jesus must at times have been exhausted by others; He sometimes escaped the crowds to be alone. Yet Jesus is the exemplar of putting people ahead of plans.
Sometimes others’ needs are tangible: a hot meal, a hospital visit. But more often, others come to us with intangible needs: the need to be heard, to be understood, to be embraced. Above all, we are called to loving relationship, the kind that God desires with us and that Jesus modeled for us in His earthly life. Emmanuel, God with us—Jesus’ desire for relationship is in His very name. May we who follow Him become known for giving our time and energy to become people who dwell with others in their need, even if it means letting go of our plans for the day.
Lord, help us to remember that in Your Kingdom, people matter more than plans. Don’t allow us to become so busy or inflexible that we have no time to minister to unanticipated needs or be with others in their pain. Thank You that You are God with us.
by Katelyn Beaty, HOPE board member & acquisitions editor for Baker Publishing Group