Presbyterians are known for doing things “decently and in order.” I read that when John Calvin wanted to find a bride, he formed a committee to do the job! For the most part, I think that a thoughtful and considered group decision is far better than a unilateral or spontaneous one, even if I sometimes grumble at how long it takes to make it. I was talking about this with a group of pastors from various denominations, and one said that he thought our slow and methodical approach had an upside. You don’t have to revisit the decision over and over again after it’s been made. Once you make a decision, it sticks. I had to agree.
Still, there are times when God invites us to act impulsively, and out of order! I remember coming home one evening from a wonderful family outing with my family when Dad suggested we go see a drive-in movie to cap it off. I never forgot that day because it was filled with unexpected joy. Then there was that guy stranded at the greyhound bus station that my seminary roommate and I saw as we were walking home; and decided to invite to stay the night in our apartment. A couple of Sundays ago we heard beautiful testimonies from those who had the opportunity to share the love of Christ with family members and friends in a series of “divine coincidences” that they did not orchestrate, but did have the opportunity to participate in.
Jesus often acted with spontaneity. Perhaps you recall that time when a synagogue leader asked Jesus to heal his sick daughter (Luke 8: 40-56). He stopped everything to go to Jairus’ house; but on the way a bleeding woman reached out from the pressing crowd to touch his garment, and was instantly healed. “Who touched me?” he asked. The women came forward. “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” Jesus was willing to be interrupted. Instead of resting on the Sabbath he healed the sick, had unplanned meetings with children, soldiers, and roadside beggars; and ate with tax gatherers and sinners (Mark 2: 15-17). I think that a readiness to engage in impulsive, spontaneous acts of joy and lovingkindness are just what this disordered world needs more of, don’t you?