We celebrated my daughter’s eighth birthday a few weeks ago. We did not have a party last year so we wanted to make sure this year was special. She invited friends, had games with shaving cream and Cheetos and water, had pizza and lemonade and cake, all the things that make a birthday party special for an 8 year old.
My daughter was loving every minute of it but as the party continued, a look came over her face. It was a look that I knew well because it was a look that came over my face as a child too and sometimes as an adult. It was the look of a pounding headache from the heat, from the sun, from too much sugar and not enough protein. It was the type of headache that makes you feel sick and want to crawl under the covers in a dark room.
My heart broke for her as she left her friends and came to tell me. She started to cry because it wasn’t fair that she felt so bad during her birthday party. I whispered a prayer for relief and grabbed her some medicine.
In the few moments that followed, my daughter curled into my lap and let me hold her. Tears flowed as she battled her desire versus her need at that moment. She wanted to be with her friends, but she needed a break.
She needed a few moments away…so that she could return.
As she was wrapped in my arms, God kindly gave me a picture of himself and a picture of myself. How often is it that I am going through life full steam ahead – being a wife, a mom, a friend, a ministry leader, a homemaker, a writer – and I get to a point that I need a break? Can you relate? Life is moving forward with all of the things and you get to a point where unless you stop and take a moment of rest, you will crash. Can you think of a time when in order for you to keep moving forward, you needed an interlude?
What my daughter needed in that moment was not only a break from her friends, the sun and the sugar, she needed a tender moment in the arms of safety, me. She needed to know that she was seen, heard, and understood. And she needed to know that it was ok for her to take a rest, that it was ok to break away for a moment to refresh. She needed to know that it was ok.
Friends, I don’t know where you are in life right now, or what you are doing but what I do know is that it is ok to take a break. Some of you right now are running at max capacity and are on the verge of a crash. Before that happens, take the interlude. Maybe you aren’t running at max capacity, but in order to not only keep moving forward, but to keep moving forward well, take the interlude.
But the interlude isn’t just leaving behind what you are involved in. It’s not just a vacation. It’s not just a moment of reprieve from the normal happenings of life.
The only interlude that will truly refresh is a moment in the presence of Jesus.
There are certainly times when there needs to be an extended interlude, where you need to intentionally set apart time and space for you to get away with Jesus for longer than just 15 minutes in the morning. I am a huge fan of those times and have to fight to get them. Those extended periods have been transformational in my walk with Jesus. But those extended times are rarely spontaneous. They have to be planned. The interlude I am talking about here is a quick refresher that can happen anywhere – a few moments alone with Jesus in your office, on a walk, taking the trash out, going to the bathroom!
Often, in those moments when I need to take a quick break in order for me to be able to return to what I am doing, I picture myself curled up beside Jesus. His safe arms are surrounding me. His gaze is looking knowingly at me. His tender voice is reassuring me. His peaceful presence is refreshing me.
Jesus is the interlude that we all need.
Author Anne Lamott says it well, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” What a better way to unplug than in the presence of Jesus. If we want to “get back out there” and function well, we must take a break in the presence of Jesus.
While I am not claiming to be Jesus, I do have the Holy Spirit within me so I am able to represent Him to those around me. In that moment, I was a representation of Jesus to my daughter. She had her safe interlude in my arms for a few minutes while her friends played outside. She was seen, heard, understood and loved by me. My voice reassured her that it would be ok. And my presence gave her the refreshment she needed so that she was able to go back out to her friends and enjoy the rest of her party.
Friends, take an interlude with Jesus.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
Jesus, thank you for being our refreshing interlude.