Available... what does it truly mean to be available to God. You surely have heard it in church before, the preacher booming from the platform with both hands in the air shaking with purpose and meaning "make yourself available to God and He will bless you with His presence" !!! One third of the congregation mimics what the pastor is doing in hopes of achieving availability, one third have their hands in the air then down by their sides then in the air again simply because they can't figure out if they even understand whats going on but they kind of want to be a part of it... while the other third just stand there staring at the crazy people they are surrounded by. We have all been there and you have either experienced one or all three stages of the congregation at hand. Yet after all that arm waving, belting out and and usually heartfelt yearning to feel God`s presence, has anyone ever answered the question "What does it mean to be available to God?" or even the follow up questions "How do I become available to God" and "What does being available to God look like"
Growing up in the church I have always been aware of the fact that I should be available to God because that is the only way that His will would work through my life (not necessarily but that is for another blog... let's stay on topic shall we?) So for years I became really awesome at pretending to know what the heck I was talking about, I "knew" what it meant to be available.... yeah I had absolutely no idea, but I sure looked Christian doing it! It wasn't until the past year or so that I decided to give up the know it all attitude and actually find out the answers to my questions. And while I was in the UK I believe that God pointed out which question to start with, what does being available to God really mean?
So, where did I start my journey of discovery and excitement? Etymology. Literally, what does available mean and where did it come from. According to the Etymology website linked above, the word available means "at one's disposal, capable of being made use of". However, let's not stop there, the word itself derives from the two other words avail + able. The word avail meaning "to be of worth" and the word able means "fit for a purpose". After looking at these three meanings I began to connect the dots which I have broken into three different areas that need to be considered when defining availability.
Avail to be of worth
"...God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:5 NIV
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18 NIV
The concept of being of worth is something that we so easily convey to our friends and family but rarely do we ever apply it to ourselves. Why? Because other than God we are the only ones who know the thoughts that go through our head, the actions that we make and sometimes wish we could actually make. We know how many times we lie, cheat, steal, judge, blame and curse in the span of an hour. I mean in the end we are all sinners, we know this, so God couldn`t ever want to use us because we can't go more than an hour without making a mistake. We see all those around us who seem better equipped to do God's work than we do, and we play the "they will be better at this than me" card. News Flash... They are thinking the exact same thing about you. So, why does this matter in the whole scheme of things? Because we need to get over the idea that we need to qualify by being worthy enough to do God's work when us being worthy was never a prerequisite. Our sin is not a measurement of how much God can use us it is an excuse we give ourselves for us not to be used. See Isaiah 1:18 quoted above; our sins are meaningless because Jesus has already dealt with them, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow... and because they have already been dealt with they can no longer be used as an excuse. Know this, that through all those sins that constantly bombard your brain, reminding you that you are not worthy of being a child a God; God's love is so much greater. His love is what defines our worth.
This verse below has been my favorite verse for years because it sums up God`s love perfectly. Unstoppable.
"37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39 NIV
Able Fit for a purpose
"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."
1 Peter 2:9-10 The Message
There is a massive misconception in the Christian world that if you don't fit the job description of Pastor, Worship Leader, Youth Pastor Master or any of the church staff positions, then you are not called to do God's work. Again, this is just another excuse for limiting what God is doing and how you can be a part of it. Some Christians believe this because they have never been taught otherwise while others believe this because they honestly believe that few are chosen to do God's work, and those few work in your local church. Let me set the record straight, I believe that some of the greatest "mission fields" are those that are everyday circumstances. For example, I have a friend who believes that her ministry is her business. That those who come in contact with her business are those that God wants her to minister to, whether that means taking them for coffee and just being that listening ear or whether that means inviting that person to church. That is her mission field. Another example would be a friend who believes that his love for sports is his mission field. God has gifted him with being athletic and a natural at sports, and he gets the opportunity through the different teams that he plays on to meet a variety of different people. Those are the people God has put there for him to minister to whether through a celebratory beer after a game or whether inviting people out for a pickup game at the church's hockey night. That is his mission field.
(Before I go on any further, you have probably noticed I have yet to use the word purpose but instead have used mission. You will understand why I have distinguished a difference a little later on.. Please continue)
Your mission in life may not be on the platform Sunday mornings, or maybe it is; but just because you don't fit into that mold doesn't mean that your mission is any less important. As you begin your search for what your mission in life might be consider what you enjoy doing? Where does your passion lie? Gary Snowzell defines Passion as ambition that is materialized into action and Passion is where you invest your focus. The things that you are passionate about and the activities that you love doing are not coincidental. God had a part to play in how you work and nothing pleases a Father more than watching their children be successful and enjoy what they are doing. "But what if I don't have what it takes???" One of my favorite sayings that has been passed around recently is "God does not call the equipped, He equips those He calls". God will give you the tools you will need to accomplish anything and everything you have been called to do, but you must have faith that He will be there.
Available at one's disposal
So here is where I explain the difference between mission and purpose that I spoke about earlier; our Purpose comes from the great commission, as Christians we are to go out and make disciples of all nations, while our mission is putting our purpose into action. The goal, if you choose to accept it, is to figure out what your mission will look like.
Being available isn't something that you do half heartedly because, in all honesty, it won't work. Does this mean that being available might mean moving across the country, changing jobs or even changing friends? Yes, that is a possibility. As much as it is sometimes untruthfully preached, being a follower of Christ is not a walk in the park, in fact many times in the New Testament it references the exact opposite of what I would say a walk in the park is (John 15:18-20 ; 2 Timothy 3:12 ; Matthew 10:16-20 and this is only a few examples). After reading those three verses, you are most likely wondering how I am going to turn this around to have a happy, go lucky, positively awesome upside... well here's one word, eternity. Yup, I just went there. On the Pro versus Con list, there is nothing that can outweigh eternity with our maker.
At the very end of it all I have come to the conclusion that what began as a very simple question turns out to be not so simple after all. It's something that you don't answer anxiously without putting thought or consideration into it, you must weigh out what it could look like for you and then ask yourself... do you want to be available to God?