Not Ability But Availability

October 5, 1998
by Kathleen Ageton

Mark 12:30 – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength: this is the first commandment. (KJV)

I have been in a holding pattern for many months now, like an airplane that's awaiting the okay to take off. The only trouble is that I don't know where I'm supposed to go or what I'm supposed to do next. The control tower is silent. I rev my engines; I call in for feedback. I receive silence. I want to serve; I want to know what my ministry is, but the answer is silent. I find myself thinking that I must be doing something wrong. Maybe I haven't prayed hard enough. Maybe God is mad at me. Why isn't He responding to me? It is difficult for me to realize that silence is one way that the Lord says to me, "Wait." So I cool my jets and put myself in park. But my attitude is not one of gratefulness and devotion. I am angry and dejected. Doesn't the Lord want me? Doesn't He know that there are only so many days and years in a life? My days are melting away, not counting for anything. But it is in the silence that I finally begin to hear Him again. I do not sense His direction, but I know His love. His love is what will guide me. He is more interested in my relationship with Him that in my service to Him.

One phrase I heard in church caught my attention: "Not ability but availability." In my idea of a ministry, I imagine putting forth a superhuman effort, a self-denial so pervasive that it takes all my strength, all my mind, all my soul, all my heart. I forget that this self-denial is not a sacrifice but a blessing. The Lord did not tell us to serve with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. He told us to love Him in that way. Service is an outpouring of love, not a matter of personal effort. It is not so much a matter of putting the self to death, but of receiving a better life. In meditating on this concept, other distortions in thought are brought to light:

      Not Ability But Availability

    Not grasping but receiving
    Not doing but being
    Not giving but releasing
    Not claiming but believing
    Not fearing but loving
    Not worrying but caring
    Not seeing but knowing
    Not leaving but arriving
    Not forcing but willing
    Not searching but seeking
    Not increasing but absorbing
    Not trying but pleasing
    Not winning but surrendering
    Not achieving but blessing
    Not boasting but praising
    Not earning but receiving grace
    Not working but exercising faith
    Not dying but entering eternal life.

Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for thinking that it is my own effort that will bring about worthy service. I need You to correct my thinking. Help me, please, to love you. Let me be consumed with love for You. By Your Holy Spirit, let Your love be manifest to others through righteous acts which You have ordained for me to do. Thank you for allowing me a role in Your Kingdom. Amen.

About the author:

Kathleen Ageton <katbabc@hotmail.com>
Wailuku, Hawaii, USA

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