learning / love

on availability

Obedience and availability are the same thing. Availability means we’ve brought out heart to the party, which is all God was ever after in the first place.


I was half way onto this concept yesterday morning, when I was reading about the calling of the first disciples. God so does not even care about our credentials. Actually, to the extent he cares, I think he would prefer they not be there, only because they tend to get in the way. That’s why, when Jesus was looking for people to partner with what he was doing, he went to fishermen and tax collectors because their career trajectory had already plateaued (or never existed). They didn’t bring much baggage and could afford — status-wise — to make this decision.

Even though these guys were the Nobodies from Nowhereland, I think when Jesus spotted them on the edge of the lake he thought, “Ooo! Yes! This is exactly what I was looking for!”

I love it when Jesus picks the Nobodies from Nowhereland, because I am one of them.

So I’m onto this big idea that what these fisherman-turned-disciples most had going for them was being available.

Jesus said come follow me and they did it. They looked at the boats and nets, they looked at their aging father struggling with baskets of fish, they thought about their wife and kids back home and then they said, OK.

Actually, that can’t be what happened. They had to have said OK first because that is the only way it works. If you wait long enough to look around and to think about what you’re doing, you’ll never leave the boat. There are too many good reasons not to. You decide first and wait for your brain lament the fact that you are destroying your life.

This brings me to last Thursday, when I drove by an older man who sits at the same street corner every day, with a sign that says “Hungry God Bless”.

I groaned.

“NO! No, God. I’m not doing it. I don’t want to talk to him. Not right now. I’ve got groceries in the back of the car. I’ve got a project to finish and I have to get home. NO.”

That’s what I said to God.

It’s just like when I was a kid and your mom tells you to do something or your friend says something you don’t want to hear and you stick your fingers in your ear and yell “nah-nah-nah-nah” until their mouth stops moving. As if somehow it’s a magic trick for changing reality.

And it never works! The only thing that changes is that you look more stupid than you did before.

As I drove away I bargained:

“OK I’m sorry God I know I was supposed to stop but I just couldn’t this time and I’m so sorry will you forgive me I’ll make sure I talk to him next time in fact I’ll do it next week for sure.”

And I totally held up my end of the deal on that.

The other day I met Roy. He’s 58 and lives in a motel and needs medical care. He spent a lot of time trying to convince me that he’s a good guy — I don’t know if that’s because he is not or because most people assume he is not. So I heard a bit of his story. I felt pretty good about myself.

And I presented it up to God with big smiles and noisemakers and sprinkles and said:

“See! See! I did it! I’m good. I’m okay! I talked to him, just like you said. Are we good now?”

And God quietly said:

“That’s not what I asked you to do.”

I kind of knew this, I was just trying to fake God out.

God wanted my heart. He wanted me to choose fearlessness instead of self (and grocery) preservation. He didn’t so much want me to talk to Roy as much as He wanted to give me what you can only get by giving yourself up.

I came to Roy  under my terms, on my own initiative. I came at a time that was convenient. I was planned. I was ready. I was scared, but I was in control. And faith was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t need it.

Obedience and availability are the same thing. Availability means we’ve brought out heart to the party, which is all God was ever after in the first place.

The very best thing I can offer God is my availability.

This time, when Jesus invited me to follow him, I looked back at the boats. I regret that. I think I missed something by choosing “not now”. But I think that makes me even more of  a Nobody than I was before. And Jesus likes Nobodies, especially Nobodies with nothing to lose. When he sees me, I know he says:

“Ooo! Yes! This is exactly what I was looking for!”

And next time he catches me in the middle of the business of life, I hope he finds me available.


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