God’s plans for our day are more important than our plans. I know this to be true, yet sometimes I resist. Going about my planned agenda, I may hum along. Then, KAPOW. Everything changes. I must put away my plans to attend to the needs of someone else. As we approach Easter, I wanted to look at someone whose plans changed so much that history remembers him: Simon from Cyrene. His experience in carrying the cross of Jesus must have been one of life’s detours for him. Thinking about his change of plans caused me to consider the need to embrace the detours in my own crazy days, especially in light of the current pandemic.
Put yourself in Simon’s shoes
Life’s detours may sneak up on us as they did for Simon. He was just traveling into Jerusalem with his mind on the Passover. In Luke’s version, “they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus” (26). In Matthew’s account, “they forced him to carry the cross” to Golgotha. Mark tells us Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus and agrees that Simon was forced to carry the cross. In John, we learn that Jesus carried his own cross for a while.
Imagine how you would feel if you were seized and forced to parade with accused criminals to a most tortuous destination. Would you feel self-conscious or embarrassed? Would you feel condemned yourself? Do you think he feared what others thought of him as he carried this burden behind a mangled man whom people hurled insults at? Might he become weighed down with the pain and hate from those around him even though he was strong? Would he question himself about how he got into this predicament and hope for an escape?
If he didn’t know Jesus when he entered town, he did now. Following behind Jesus, he heard what Jesus said to those on the side lines. I don’t know where Simon stood before, during, or after, but I suspect he became compassionate. Paul speaks of a Rufus in Romans 16. If this is the same Rufus, Simon’s experience affected his family in a way that they came to serve Jesus.
How do you deal with interruptions?
Interruptions crop up every day in our lives, don’t they? Sometimes I’m not so graceful about my interruptions. Other times, I take it in stride. Simon had no choice but to obey what the Roman soldiers told him to do.
Attitudes influence how we see our serving and interruptions. Do we see life’s detours as annoyances? Do we grumble, “Why do I have to carry this condemned man’s cross? I have places to go, work to attend to.” Or do we see them as opportunities: “Lord, I see you are hurting and exhausted, let me carry that cross for you. No, it’s no trouble at all. I love you, you see.”
Tips for handling life’s detours
Here are some tips to help your attitude when interruptions derail your plans:
- Pray at the beginning of your day. Give your plans up to the Lord.
- Keep a loose hold on your plans. Don’t grip them so they have to be ripped from your hands or heart.
- When interruptions present themselves, pause and consult the Lord. Ask Him to help you embrace this task He has presented to you.
- Think about the blessings your service is providing for the other person.
- Don’t be selfish and wallow in your frustration or anger over having your plans disrupted. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who is ahead of you. Remember how he spoke to those around Him with gentleness and kindness. He cared.
- Thank God for the opportunities he presents to help you grow to be more like Him.
- Apologize if your attitude stinks, and ask for help.
- Remember others (especially our children) are watching how we handle this. Do we want them to be part of the pain in the struggles of life, or do we want them to embrace and love others, knowing people are far more important than accomplishments?
- Look for ways to serve every day.
- Leave pockets of time for serving others. Don’t forget Simon of Cyrene.
With practice, our new habits will not only bring us joy, but they will encourage others in their day too. I hope you are well and that God will bless you with peace during this time of stress.
What is one way you cope with disruptions or major detours in your day?
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