For years, I said no. I can’t be bothered. I don’t have time. Sorry, I’m very busy. I’ll fit you into my calendar in a few weeks, which became a few months, which became a few years.
During this time of stinginess, I found my world was getting smaller and smaller. Friends stopped calling because I was no longer available.
Then I came across these words: The world of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy gets small and smaller. (Proverbs 11:24)
These words are more than a principle for financial giving. They are a principle for generous living. They help us to see generous people generate things. They are available and so their lives becomes more surprising, colorful and fruitful.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Jesus is how he made himself available. Not in a theoretical kind of way. But in a real way that welcomed interruptions, made room for surprises and said yes to people who wanted things from him.
And for the record there were a lot of people who wanted things from Jesus. Here’s the short list: blind men – grieving sisters – greedy tax collectors – hurting women – sick children and questioning lawyers.
To all these and hundreds of others Jesus made himself available. Sure, there were a few moments when he drew back to spend time with his Heavenly Father, but most of the time Jesus was out meeting tree climbers, washing feet, answering questions, and blessing children.
He didn’t say no because his busy schedule couldn’t be bothered by a women caught in adultery. He didn’t get overwhelmed when a desperate dad needed help or kids wanted some of his time or when a crowd showed up without lunch.
Instead Jesus was available. He wandered and he blessed. He noticed needs and stepped forward to meet them. He stopped to tell stories. He lived his whole life with an inner ear to the Spirit’s whisper: Listen to her. Eat with them. Play with those children. Draw in the sand. Walk to that tree. Rest at this well. Look at the birds. Notice the flowers. Give them something to eat.
And as he made himself available, his life became bigger and bigger.
Jesus calls us to be like him. This is exhilarating but also a bit scary.
It’s exhilarating because being available means we are in on God’s wild movement in this world. We get to live awake to what he’s up to. We are storm chasers, watching where the Spirit is blowing. We are feet washers, and storytellers. This is exhilarating work.
But it’s also exhausting and a bit scary because being available means we say yes to interruptions and surprises. We hold our days loosely because God may have another plan. He may have a mom who needs help or a stranger who needs to share their story.
And well I don’t particularly like interruptions, I’m also learning there isn’t any other way to become available than to welcome them.
And so slowly I’m learning my life doesn’t consist in the plans I put together. Instead life consists in the love I receive from God and the love I give away to others.
One implication of this truth is that my life’s work isn’t what I tend to think it is. Often, I think my life’s work is to write a book or preach a sermon. And not that those things don’t matter but my life’s work is bigger and better. My life’s work is to be available to the Spirit’s whisper: listen to her, speak an encouraging word to him, swing with your daughter, enjoy your son’s laughter, make yourself available to others.
So I’m learning to make myself available and in this I’m beginning to see my world expand again. It is becoming more varied, more surprising, and more full of color because the world of the available becomes larger and larger.