Being Available for God’s Call
Availability Defined | Responding to God’s Call | The Key to Availability—Obedience | Availability Earns Respect
The word means, “accessible for use, or usable.” How many times a day do we call for someone on the phone and are told, “Sorry, he is not available”? Or, a catalogue comes and you see an item and are warned, “This item is not available until next month”? How many times have we heard a call from God and responded, “Sorry, Lord, I am not available”?
Not only are we to be serious about being available to people and situations, but primarily we are to be available to our Lord. Centuries ago, the voice of God was heard, as He asked if anyone was willing to go on a special journey for Him. He asked, “Whom shall I send?” And a man named Isaiah heard that voice and immediately responded and said, “Here am I. Send me!” That’s availability.
Responding to God’s Call
You have often heard that paraphrase of Isaiah’s which says, “Here am I, send my sister.” That seems especially to be true in missionary work. Ray Stedman calls for a complete commitment to God’s challenge. He cites in a sermon the words of Peter Marshall who saw “many Christians dressed in deep-sea diving equipment rushing forward to pull plugs from bathtubs.” We are called, and the only response is “I am ready, send me.”
Commentators point out the difference between the response of Isaiah and Moses, who was slow to accept his call. Likewise, Jeremiah also hesitated before responding to the Lord’s call. To be available—that is the foremost challenge we face.
In Acts we find the amazing story of a man who was absolutely opposed to the Gospel. His name was Saul and he came from Tarsus. God called him, told him to go into the city, and he went. In that city lived a man named Ananias. God also spoke to him and said, “Go…” and Ananias went. Here is evidence of availability. This is the proof of our declaring that we are believers, to quickly acknowledge God’s voice and call.
The Key to Availability—Obedience
Obedience is the key that makes us available to whatever the Lord desires. Scripture abounds with illustration and commands as they pertain to this theme. In Hebrews 5:8 we read, “although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” In I Samuel 15:22 we read, “to obey is better than sacrifice.” Jesus’ mother said, “Do whatever he tells you”(Jn 2:5). Paul speaks of obedience that comes from faith (Rom 1:5).
All throughout the Bible we read of people who gave up home and comfort in order to obey God. The early church was obedient to the call and thus became available. Although made up of ordinary people, within 200 years after the Great Commission they had gone to the ends of the then-known world with the Good News. In addition, all of the people listed in that noble list of Hebrews 11 were available. And because they were available, tremendous things happened. Again, availability to the Lord’s call is evidence of one’s faith.
Availability Earns Respect
We respect people who are available. Our country calls and people respond. Family responsibilities demand attention and people give up education and other good experiences in order to be available. Great needs arise in the community and people become available to help. Doctors are called in the middle of the night, fireman rush into danger, mothers sacrifice for the sake of the family, fathers give up many things in order for children to be cared for, and on it goes. People become available for good and just causes. Christian people need to be very sensitive and responsive to the voice of the Lord. “Here am I, send me.” This is the key to effective service for our Lord. It is based on obedience and results in availability.
Availability – A Four-Minute Sermon
Contributed by Dr. Paul E. Toms
Senior Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church, Boston, MA
Availing Ourselves to God and to Others
Walking the Talk | Availability Defined | Four Benefits of Availability | The Flip-side—Unavailability | The Dangers of Availability
Walking the Talk
“I hate voice mail,” says my almost 90-year-old friend, a former CEO. Of course, his business years were mostly over before this “power tool” was popular. When he calls, like in the “old days,” he wants to talk with a “real person”—and don’t we all feel that way? We call and a generic voice (who is that woman, anyway?) instructs, “Press one for the President’s office (but not the President!). “Press two for the executive secretary’s office, etc. If you know your party’s extension, please dial it now.” Voice mail too often describes our 21st century relationships . . . and our unavailability.
What is availability? Words come to mind: “accessible,” “reachable,” “touchable.” Questions that measure our accessibility include, “Can I get to you?”; “How can I reach you?”; “If I need you, will you be there?”; “Can I call you?”.
Let’s try this for a definition: avail – ability is the ability to be “avail!” And how does one be “avail?” Avail means advantage or help. It can mean if you are available, you are present for use to someone or something’s advantage. If you are available, you are present to help. Whew! Sounds a little dangerous, doesn’t it? We certainly don’t want someone taking advantage of us, now do we? -WRONG! While we want our fellow man to be fair with us and not just “use” us, in the Kingdom of God we want God to find us useful to Himself. We are present to help. We are servants of God (literally “slaves by choice”) and servants (and especially slaves) are always available to the master. In fact, a servant wants to give his lord or master the advantage by always being available.
And how do we serve God? He says we serve Him best as we serve others or “avail” when we have the ability and the opportunity to “avail.”
Four Benefits of the Quality Availability
Availability keeps you on other peoples’ minds. We all have certain names that spring to mind when we really need help. “Oh I know,” you say, “I’ll call ______.” Availability is a good business card.
Availability promotes teamwork. Like the children’s little Sunday School chorus says, “When we all pull together, how happy we’ll be.” When someone is available to me, just knowing that helps me do more. The Scriptural principle says it’s true: “One shall chase a thousand. Two shall put 10,000 to flight” (c.f. Deut 32.30). Availability help increases strength exponentially.
Availability to others gives them a feeling of value. To tell someone you’re available if they need you is saying to them, “You can call on me and I’ll be there. You’re worth it.” Often that’s all the encouragement or help they need—just to know you’re there for them.
Availability allows you opportunity to fulfill your potential by keeping you in touch with some of life’s best open doors. What you pour into the lives of others has a wonderful way of flowing back to you when you need it most and expect it least.
The Flip-Side – Unavailability
Nothing is worse than thinking someone will be there for you and they don’t show up. It doesn’t take much unavailability until the disappointed party says, “If I can’t count on you, I won’t, but don’t consider me your friend.” Without availability, one risks becoming a nonentity, a no show. Ability without availability is like no ability at all. It’s like the beautiful truth, “People don’t care how much you know (ability) until they know how much you care (availability). To be truly available requires one to be ready, able, and willing.
The Danger of Availability
Being “overavailable.” It’s saying you can when you can’t, you will when you won’t, you want to when you don’t. “Overability” can and usually does produce frequent cases of burn-out. Know your limits, be honest about your skills, and then be available within these boundaries.
Understand the “hierarchy of demand.” Know to whom you are most obligated and prioritize from there. Let your availability be governed by the order that priority dictates. You’ll find yourself saying “no” as often as “yes”. A well placed “no” is as important as a well-timed “yes” and they are of equal value in the quality of availability.
Availability – A 4-Minute Sermon with Sermon Outline
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed By Clyde C. Miller
Pastor Emeritus, First Christian Assembly, Cincinnati, OH
Posted July 6, 2004
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.