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(1 Samuel 3:2-10,19,20; 7:3-5,12)

Lesson 4 -- fourth quarter 2000
September 24, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Which comes first: ability or availability?
Why be unavailable for God?

The mission board wanted him to serve in Latin America. His grasp of Spanish was enviable. He knew the culture first hand, and he knew it well. He had proven himself one to fit into varying situations well without compromising any standards. His people skills surely had their match, but no one knew where. No wonder the mission board wanted him. But despite his abilities, he lacked availability.

He came to the school board, anxious to serve; overly anxious, some folks thought. He wanted to help the school, the board, the students, whoever. He professed a desire to serve; he felt called, not just to teach, but to teach there. How often do school boards have that happen to them?! But he brought few teaching abilities to the table.

She wanted to be a voluntary service teacher in the reservation's church school. Lacking the requisite training, she didn't volunteer for the job and when offered it, turned it down. But that's not the end of the tale. She confirmed her availability to God and asked Him to direct her into further training. God's primary means of training was "plain, old daily living" but He also allowed her some formal teacher training. In time, she was both able and available for service.

Now which do you say comes first: ability or availability?

Neither. God always comes first. If God isn't first, and you try to choose between ability and availability, you will surely botch the whole matter. If God doesn't come first, abilities become liabilities and availability can often result in disability. Put God first and He will make you able and available, or else He will make you available and able. Only He knows the right order for you!

Did you think about it? In today's lesson we see again the example of a godly parent with a vision for her child. Before he was old enough to make such decisions for himself, Samuel had already been made available to the Lord's service. And before he was really old enough to be thinking seriously about preparing for service, he was being prepared for that service. Eventually Samuel needed to make a responsible commitment of his own. By the time he got to that point, God had already brought him into ability and availability.

Some folks just aren't available for God. Regardless of ability or lack thereof, they simply refuse to be available. Why?

Selfishness. They want to do what they want, not what is right. They want to live for themselves, not for God (and definitely not for others). These people aren't available because God isn't first.

Fear. They are afraid they might be sent to do something for which they think they are unqualified and unprepared. Giving God a blank check on their lives looks too scary. I guess we could say that these individuals aren't available because they don't trust God.

Blindness. They really aren't selfish and they likely aren't fearful either. They just don't know about the service needs and opportunities. They are pathetically uninformed, perhaps because they are distracted by too many other things and interests. It would seem these folks aren't available because they haven't asked God what He would have them to do.

Are you available for God?

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