"Here I Am" ~ Samuel
So much of this life is dependent upon our planning and preparedness. I often tell my son, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” It is true that when we pair our grind with our grit, good things happen. And yet, like all the other things humans take part in, our doing quickly turns into our being, becoming our identity. In our spiritual fogginess and unstable inner world, we are busy busy busy building mere shanties and expecting that we should be measured as if we built an entire dynasty.
So quickly our busyness becomes more than the pace of how we live life, but instead the measuring rod defining who we are. We would want to claim our effort, expertise, and completed “To Do” List as proof of a life well-lived.
I’ll be the first to admit that busyness is a double-edge sword in my own heart. With two boys with unique special needs, I find myself doing many things all the time. When people ask me how I get all of it done, I respond, “Objects in motion stay in motion.” If it was good enough for Newton, it’s good enough for me! 😊
In the blink of an eye, how fast, how much, and how well I can do my life can become how people experience me and how I prove my presence to others. The hamster wheel in my brain will spin faster than the tires on the last lap of a Nascar race, and I forget that I am a human being. I plan and schedule, make lists, scratch that list and then make another list. I am simply doing all the things…all the time…without a pause to be who I am. Little do I realize that my busyness is the very thing that keeps me from being who I fully am, unless I am conscientiously choosing to be fully present while in the doing.
I think this is a human flaw that we all share. (I mean, workaholism wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t so easy, so exciting, to be human doers.) Could it be that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were simply so good at being busy and doing all the things, that they forgot that they were also human beings? Did they simply never step off the hamster wheel of busyness long enough to remember who they were as opposed to what they could do? (Do I forget as well?)
So many times, God’s call to his servants come at the most inopportune time: in the middle of the night (1 Sam. 3), when the entire family is finally enjoying a respite of peace (Gen. 22), in the middle of what we thought was God’s direction to begin with (Gen. 22, Acts 10), while tending to the everyday things we already had on our list (Exodus 2), on the way from one place to another (Acts 8), in between the bites of a meal (Luke 22), in the busyness of preparing bread for a meal (Gen. 18) , in the darkness of depression (1 Kings 19), and there are many more “interruptions” I could list here.
At first, it seems that God highjacks the original plan and sends his followers on a wild goose chase in the opposite direction…with no real explanation for why He would choose to do so. For all of our planning and doing, God has a unique way of recalibrating our lives to fit within His will.
In my life, I have wrestled to accomplish all the “things” I felt were necessary and good for myself and the ones I love. Interruptions are the ultimate frustration to my self-determined plans (and the timeframe I think is acceptable). I often end up angry, complaining, whiny, and basically a wretch to be around when my plans and projects are dragging along – or at a halt – because of the unexpected re-direction.
Years ago, in a season where none of my “good” plans were working out, I happened upon a quote by Oswald Chambers:
“God’s order comes to us in the haphazard.”
My life felt haphazard at the time: we had just moved into a new city, in a new house, with all the chaos that happens when children with special needs are no longer in any familiar surroundings, and without community to call on to help. I felt like life was spinning out of control, and every thing I tried, failed. I felt lost, useless, worthless, inept, unequipped, unsupported, and absolutely at my wits’ end. I had sort of lost my ability to know whether I was doing the “right” things at all.
This quote resounded in my heart, and I prayed, “Lord, help me to embrace the things I feel as haphazard and accept it as the divine timing You have over my life.”
I prayed this prayer for many months. And God did, indeed, answer – in HIS timing, in HIS way. I couldn’t force it, grit it, or grind it. He would have to change my heart from relying on my ability to “do” into a heart that was open to whatever would come my way - whenever it would come - to simply being available to His direction especially when it seemed to stall my plans.
I’ve come to call this acceptance of God’s seemingly haphazard plans as my “Practice of Availability”.
Availability is the combination of presence and ability. In order to be available, I must be fully present to God and myself and others. And in order to follow His “haphazard” leading, I would also have to be willing to respond obediently to His plan, regardless of what it looks like in my human perspective. It is a spiritual posture of opening one’s abilities (in whatever forms they present themselves in my life) and my time (including plans and schedules), allowing God to call upon the use of those things – to avail Himself of the things He has already supplied to me for use to glorify Him in my life.
Opening myself to God’s good timing, wise ways, and haphazard plot-twists, has brought about some of the sweetest moments in my life. These are the moments that I never want to end because I can feel the Lord in our midst; His footsteps echoing off the walls around me. The memories of these moments - when God called and availed Himself of the time, effort, energy, and resources He had first allotted and allowed me to steward - are the most tender and real moments in time. Overflowing with the stuff that makes living worth it – when it seems God does His best, deep, and holy work in mysteriously wise ways.
Because when we show up fully available to God’s plans, He shows up too, and makes His Spirit available to us in abundance… and accomplishes all that He had intended to do. And it is beautiful.
It’s the memories of these mysterious moments and the hope of His continued availability to us that encourages me to continue to make myself – and all that I have been given – open and available to the Lord. I wish I always embraced the unplanned and haphazard with joy and expectation (He's still working on me and my "TO DO" List...). But, I have seen enough of the goodness of the Lord at work in these chaotic re-directions to believe that He will continue to meet us here in our availability - infusing these moments with His presence.
And when the Lord comes near, we are never the same...and I am forever grateful for it.