When our son, Josiah, was young he loved to tell jokes. One of his favorites was the interrupting cow joke. Maybe you know it:
Our family got so in to this joke that we expanded it to interrupting pig, interrupting chicken…even interrupting walking stick! We never failed to laugh hysterically (well at least me; something about it always struck my funny bone).
I was thinking about that joke recently and the tendency some of us have to finish others’ sentences. We anticipate what they are going to say, so we interrupt, somehow thinking that if we complete the sentence, we’re helping along the communication. Or maybe we don’t finish their sentences out loud, but we silently interpret their motives. We finish the words behind the words, so to speak. The problem comes when we end their sentence or interpret their words in a different way than they were thinking. Rather than aiding the discourse, it disrupts it and causes confusion.
Although these kinds of interruptions are commonplace and relatively harmless, I wonder how many times I do the same thing to God. How many times do I finish His sentences? I think I know the direction he is leading, but rather than patiently waiting for him to complete his phrase, I’m off and running. I fill in the blank spaces with my thoughts.
Sometimes it’s hard to discover where we go wrong. We forget we “see through a glass, darkly.” When things don’t work out the way we anticipated, it’s helpful to remember we only “know in part.” Yet knowing in part is better than not knowing at all. Because I sometimes fail to get the whole message, I don’t want to stop learning how to listen, how to separate His thoughts from mine.
There are few things in life more dear than hearing the voice of the Lord. He speaks to us in many ways if we but have the desire and the discipline to pay attention. May we be more intent on listening. Less on adding our own two cents. Let’s not let our thoughts turn into interrupting cows.