But getting sidetracked isn’t all bad. When I’ve been traveling in the fast lane too long, I need a place to retreat. And a time or two while sitting on one of life’s sidings, I’ve discovered that I was on the wrong track anyway.
Ironically, often what we stop to do turns out to be more important than our planned agenda. A child needs attention, a friend needs to talk, or a stranger needs a hand. It’s hard to have a decent conversation unless you come to a full stop. Need has a priority all its own!
The Bible says that our trouble all began when Adam and Eve were distracted by the snake in the garden. On the other hand, a shepherd named Moses encountered God when he “turned aside to see a bush that burned.”
Although Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” in the last week of his life, the Master also got sidetracked – to the consternation of his disciples and the joy of the recipients of his attention.
On his way to see about Jairus’ deathly ill daughter, he paused to care for a woman in the crowd who had touched the hem of his garment. When mothers brought their children to him, He stopped what he was doing and took them in his arms. In one of Jesus’ most familiar parables the hero turned out to be an unlikely Samaritan who interrupted his journey to help a wounded stranger beside the Jericho road. According to Jesus, “neighbors” often get sidetracked.
“Lord, forgive us when we’re too easily distracted. On the other hand, free us to get sidetracked for the sake of love. Amen.”