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Are you available?

How available are you to God’s unexpected encounters? Do you intentionally leave extra space around the edges of your life for spontaneous assignments?

Or do you stay so scheduled, each day carefully planned out, that when the unplanned happens, you have nowhere to put it?

Margin is not a spiritual necessity. But availability is.

God expects us to be available for the needs of others.

And without margin, each of us would have great difficulty guaranteeing availability. Instead, when God calls, He gets the busy signal.

I tend to live very scheduled.

Because I like to think I accomplish more when I stick to a schedule,
I like to stick to a schedule.

But that can mean God occasionally gets a busy signal when he calls me. I’m struggling with it right now.

  • I have a lunch date I need to set up this week with a friend going through health struggles.
  • And with another friend I need to get to know deeper in faith.
  • And doctors’ appointments I need to attend to get help for Jenna’s headaches.

I’m trying to break free of rigidity.
To be free for flexibility.
To be available for God’ use.

I want to continue using the love of organization that God planted in me—it can be used for his glory—but I don’t want to turn a strength into a weakness.

I don’t want to out-schedule God.

So I keep looking for ways to build more margin in my life. For now, that means letting go of other things.

  • It means leaving the piles of paper on my dresser a little longer instead of sorting through them today (which bothers me).
  • And foregoing projects I’ve scheduled to get done but can delay still longer (life will go on).
  • And not mopping the floors or weeding the flower beds as often (um, not really a sacrifice, but you get the point...).

Because when God calls, I want to pick up.
I want to be available.

* * *

How do you create space for the unexpected?


bekahcubed said...

I tend to be very goal-oriented, which often means that the margins are neglected (and people end up in the margins. I was convicted a few weeks ago when one of the points in my pastor's sermon "A Theology of Time from the Life of Christ" was "Keep a margin for divine appointments." He used the woman with the issue of blood as an example.

My difficulty is discerning what things are divine appointments and what things are needless distractions. When should I screen my calls and when should I answer them immediately? When should I "hang out" with everyone and when should I stay home to "get something done"? I've come to see that discernment is huge in managing time-and there aren't any easy rules. So my prayer becomes "Lord, give me discernment to see and to do your will with today."

Lisa notes... said...

So Rebekah, you can’t imagine just how interesting your comment is to me….

As you probably already know about me, I’m very goal-oriented too, so this issue of margin is really tough for me (there are always so many projects I want to get accomplished!).

But just today my daughter Jenna and I were asked to participate in a mother-daughter tea in a few weeks and because I’ve been moaning lately about lack of voice, I couldn’t legitimately turn down the opportunity when one came my way. ;-)

On the way home Jenna and I were brainstorming some ideas and settled on a dance/word interpretation of…the woman with the issue of blood. It’s the only place where Jesus called a woman “Daughter”.

So it’s the perfect storm. :-) (1) I’ve committed to another project just when I was trying to open up more margin; (2) but wouldn’t this qualify as a divine appointment?; (3) and now you mention the very story we want to work with!

If you have time to e-mail me back (you low-margin person, you! ha), I’d love to hear more about your pastor’s sermon and what points stood out to you. And if you don’t have time, you know I will understand. :-)

Kimberly said...

I want to be available for God to use, too! And I have been increasingly aware of this in my own life.

Naturally I much more tuned-in to the Holy Spirit, when I have spent time in prayer and in soaking up His Word. I have to have been poured into by Him, so that I have something inside to pour out on others. As our faith and testimony in Jesus are strengthened, more opportunities to make a difference in the Kingdom of God come our way.

When we get caught up in the day's goals and needs and find it hard to tear ourselves away for a "God appointment", we can remind ourselves that we want to store up "treasures in HEAVEN where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal."

Lisa notes... said...

You make a great point. We won’t have anything to pour out if we haven’t first been filled up by the Spirit. And while he is able to do that with or without our help, he wants us to consciously and intentionally spend time with him.

I’m praying I’ll wake up in the morning with “God appointment” foremost in my mind…

Floyd said...

Ummm... You got me... I tend to be validated in business when I'm busy and successful. The crazy part is the more I seek God and the simple things that the world thinks are inconsequential, I am provided for. Beyond anything I could ever accomplish in my weak flesh. The gifts He provides we tend to take control of after He's got them up and running and find our self worth in those things. They are not who we are... They are simply HIs gifts of protection and provision...

I find this sight to be quite uncomfortable!!! Guess I better keep coming back...

Lisa notes... said...

Isn’t it curious how we equate our busy-ness with success? Yet I never see that “I’m hurried; no time for this!” attitude in Jesus, the one who we’re trying to emulate.

I’m quite uncomfortable when I look at my own life in this area too (and others!), so I feel your pain. I guess that gives us all the more motivation to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus instead! :-)

Barbara H. said...

I'm not as goal oriented as I should be (it tends to come in spurts) yet I am still not as available as I should be because usually what someone else wants me to do is not what "I" want to do. Selfishness is so pervasive -- it would be completely disheartening if not for grace.

Janet said...

I'm not terribly goal-oriented and have margins, but I relate to what Barbara said in her comment.

I tend to feel like the unscheduled time is a gift to me to recharge or whatever, but I need to see it more as an open slot where I can think of myself as especially available.

Charlotte said...

You pose a very good question. We always need to be prepared for the unexpected because the unexpected is to be expected.

Daily Panic said...

Hi Lisa! I found you on AL Bloggers. I really enjoy your blog. You are very informative. I also write a weekly devotional about growing in my faith.

Cindy M Jones said...

Hi Lisa,
I enjoyed this post, so glad you visited my blog!



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