The Ministry of Availability

the ministry of availability

Life as an empty-nester has looked a lot different than I imagined.

When the kids were little I watched so many women fall apart when their nest emptied. They had no life and no identity outside of their children. I determined I would NOT be one of them and set about doing everything I could to avoid that scenario.

Through the years I’ve written, taught, and generally moved in the direction of becoming “something”, having some sort of career once the kids were gone. I assumed that when the last one trotted off to college God would drop His crystal clear vision of the future into my mind and off we’d go.

But life rarely turns out as expected.

The vision, the job, the success did not come. And God was silent.

One word describes this season so well: lost.

No sense of direction, no clues, and one big, fat identity crisis.

In fact, the only asset I had was time.

It’s only been in recent months that I’ve come to realize that time is the very thing God wants to use in this season.

For the first time in my life, I’m truly available to live a life more like Jesus lived, one that can be interrupted by people and crisis and needs.

And I’ve come to realize the value of this ministry of availability in the midst of a chaotically busy world that can’t seem to slow down for anything or anybody.

When my neighbor was diagnosed with leukemia on a Friday and took his last breath five days later, I was available to sit at his bedside during the night, to offer a shoulder to cry on, and to be the hands and feet of anything his family needed done.

When my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and her life fell apart in a million other ways, I was available to home school her children a couple of days a week.

When my uncle, who has no wife or children, was told his health was failing and he didn’t have much longer to live, I was available to clean his house, to take him out for lunch, to listen to his fears, to pray with him, to laugh together, and to love him like a daughter would.

When the five year old next door gets home from school in the afternoons and wants to “hang out” with me, I’m available to listen about her school day and to her feelings about losing the family dog.

When my daughter calls to vent about college, I have time to listen. And when she comes home for the weekend I can drop everything to spend time with her.

When my husband wants to go hiking or to take a spontaneous trip, I’m available to go.

When the young moms call to ask for advice about marriage, parenting, and homeschooling, I can listen and offer encouragement.

In this season of availability I can truly be the ears of Jesus, the mouth of Jesus, the hands and feet of Jesus, and the love of Jesus to those around me.

For now, my calling is to simply be available.

In what ways are you making yourself available to others and to God?


What Will You Really Do for God?

What will you really do for God?

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”   Luke 22:33-34

How many times have we heard a story about an incident and said, “Well, if it had been me, I would have. . .” We are so quick to know what we would do in situations we have never faced.

But the truth is none of us really knows what we would do until we are there doing it.

We might think we know, but the truth comes in the facing and the doing.

Peter made a bold statement. He was willing to forego his freedom and live in the deep, dark dungeons of prison, all for Christ’s sake.  He was even willing to die! Did you catch that? He was willing to stop living on this earth, to totally give up his life, to DIE for Jesus!

Peter wasn’t lying. He meant what he said. He truly believed that he would do anything for Jesus. . . until it came time to actually go to prison or face death. Then he changed his tune completely. He wouldn’t even acknowledge that he knew Jesus.

While Peter didn’t really know what he would do in those hard places, Jesus did know. He told Peter exactly what he was going to do when faced with the reality of prison or death.

What a kindness Jesus paid to Peter. It’s as if he was saying, “Peter, I know your heart, that you sincerely want to give yourself on my behalf, but you won’t do it, Peter. Fear will get in the way and you’ll succumb to it. But it’s okay, Peter, I already know what you’ll do and I love you anyway. I’ve already prayed for you (verse 31) and I’ll help you forgive yourself when you deny me.  I’ll give you compassion to help your brothers when they do the same. It’s all good, Peter. Really, it is.”

It’s so easy to speculate and boast about what we would do in any given situation, but we don’t really know what we will do until we are there.

But we can trust that the Lord knows. Whether we succeed or fail, He already knows.

He loves us anyway. He’ll use it all, even our failure.

It’s all good. Really, it is.

Have you ever had a time when how you thought you would act and how you actually acted didn’t jive?


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