I love life. I love being involved in my church, my community, and the thousand projects I dream up on a weekly basis. That’s led me to a very busy life. I know I’m not alone. Our culture treats busyness as a badge of honor. It’s the expected social response to “How are you?!” “I’m good, so very busy, but good!” Or you might hear, “I’m good, I’m really tired, but I’m doing well.” Why are we tired? Because we’re so busy! And also because we don’t sleep enough, eat right, or exercise regularly. We use busyness as an excuse for those issues as well!
I’ve lived that lifestyle for over a decade. I’ve been in that place where I don’t have a free day or evening for the next 90 days. Where I find myself saying every month. ”Once I get through this weekend/dinner/class/commitment/project/month things will ease up.” I don’t live like that anymore. I’ve made a conscious effort to slow down. I’ve excused myself from ministry positions. I’ve withdrawn from leading a small group. I’ve canceled (or put on perpetual hold) projects like the Ebook version of Who God Says You Are. I’ve said no to countless good things. I’ve been very intentional about weeding out all the good things that have kept me from the best things—the things God wants me to do. Because being available to God is far more important to me.
Monday night, my former ministry team co-leader asked me how I’d been, what I’d been up to since she saw me last. I fumbled for an answer and I realized at that moment, I’ve been successful! Because the answer that popped out of my mouth was “I’ve been resting.” Which was mostly true. My son and I have been sick off and on for the last 8 weeks and so there’s been a lot of forced rest as well as intentional rest.
What I probably should have said instead was, “I’ve been practicing being available to God, and it’s been amazing!” Because that’s where I am right now. I’m a natural planner and several years ago I decided to abandon my typical planned approach to life. Instead, I started on a path I called “following my curiosity.” That led me to many amazing places I never anticipated. But, it still left me busy and tired, because I have a very active curiosity! For the past six months, I’ve shifted my approach from curiosity to availability.
We have a God who created us for a specific set of purposes. He chose to become available to us in a barely-believable sacrificial act. And while your planning, skills, connections and even your curiosity aren’t bad things, God is far more interested in your availability.
When Moses was available, God used him to emancipate a nation.
When Deborah was available, God made her a judge in Israel and brought her military victory.
When Boaz and Ruth were available, God wove them into the lineage of Christ.
When Esther was available, God used her to save her people from certain death.
When David was available, God defeated Goliath, gave him a throne and promised him a forever-king heir.
When a young teen, Mary, was available, God birthed a savior.
When a handful of ordinary fishermen were available, God birthed the bride of Christ.
If you were more intentional about being available to God, what could he do through you?
He doesn’t need your youth, Abram was 75 when God moved him. He doesn’t need your skills or experience, Moses was an inexperienced, inarticulate leader. He might use your gifts, but what he needs most is simply your availability.
In the last months since I’ve changed the rhythms in my life to be more available, God has shifted the direction of my work, awakened joy, shared his presence in ways I’ve not experienced before, orchestrated circumstances, whispered love messages to my heart, and opened doors that I didn’t know existed. The pace of these changes has increased the more I’ve made myself available. I’m not at all suggesting this is an automatic cause and effect scenario. I’m sure there will be a time when this slows down. But, had I not been available, had I still been busy being busy, I’m certain I would have missed out on most of what he’s doing in my life right now.
How available are you? I’ve been talking a lot about my schedule, but that’s not the only thing that keeps us from being available to God. Fear, lack of love, idolatry, sin, pride, or shame could all keep us from the adventure.
We serve a BIG God who loves you enough to die for you. He wants you to join him in a life of love. We don’t need God to teach us how to reach people. We need him to teach us how to love people. He may ask you to love the mom two doors down. He might ask you to love the hurting teen on the next block. He might ask you to love the homeless man you pass every day. He might ask you to love your spouse. He might ask you to love your ex-spouse. He might ask you to love specific Mayan children named Dilma, Ismar, and Daniela in Guatemala, as he asked of me.
No matter who he asks you to love, are you willing to say yes? Are you available to hear his request?
Close your eyes and imagine your life as a notebook page. What’s written all over that page? How full is it? Where do your time and attention go? This is your gift to God, your life lived for his glory. What does it look like? Mary Oliver called it your “one wild and precious life.” What if the page was blank? What could God do with your one wild and precious life? We aren’t likely able (and we shouldn’t) to wipe that page clean, to start with a blank page. But, the question is worth thinking about. How much space does God have to work in your life? How available are you?