Being Available to Christ
By Susie Rowan – Outgoing BSF Executive Director
When I was a young believer, a man handed me a small card at a church potluck (when we still had those). All it said was, “Ask simply to be used.”
The man was a mattress salesman. There was nothing special about his appearance or his pedigree. Yet his impact for the glory of God is still rippling years after his death. His funeral was attended by nearly a thousand people, and notable Christian leaders told stories about his love for God and influence on others. I carried that card with me in my wallet for years, and even after it was lost, the Spirit continued to bring that phrase to mind: “Ask simply to be used.”
Today, God is using that little card and its simple words once again. It translates to me as “Be available.” I pray, “Lord, I am available for your service today. How would you like to use me?” As I listen for God’s voice and watch how He orchestrates my day, He reminds me of the availability of Jesus.
Christ is Available to Us
In this year’s Matthew study, we will behold the unexpected availability of Jesus.
God sent His one and only Son to us. Jesus willingly left heaven to come for us. A virgin conceived and gave birth to a Son, whom we call Immanuel, “God with us.” The Almighty God of heaven and earth put on flesh to become available to us, to offer eternal salvation and a reconciled relationship with Him.
And throughout Matthew’s Gospel, we will see Jesus’ availability to the needs of those who humbly sought Him. Jesus was available when the crowds needed food (Matthew 14:13-21). He was available when the people needed healing (Matthew 4:23-25). Most importantly, He sacrificed all to make forgiveness and redemption available to us. And now Jesus’ availability continues forever. For He did not leave us as orphans when He ascended into Heaven but rather increased His availability by sending His Spirit to dwell in His believers and walk with us through life. Just as He promised the disciples and us, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
In response, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, and many others left behind their fishing nets, boats and former lives to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22) and live every day available to be His hands and feet in the world.
Are We Available to Christ?
This is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. Those who know and follow Christ make themselves available to Him. Isaiah recognized the risen Christ on the throne and said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 and John 12:41). Ananias, in a vision, was told by Jesus to lay down his plans to restore a man named Saul, also called Paul, for ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 9:10-19). In both instances, Isaiah and Ananias made themselves available to Jesus for an unexpected and risky assignment.
Many of you have very full plates. You are swamped with responsibilities – demanding work hours, caring for aging parents, raising a houseful of children, providing for loved ones, and more. Daily, you sacrificially become available to your family, employer, ministry, and so much more. Yet there are still times when we will be called to adjust our plans to the unexpected needs of friends, co-workers, or unforeseen assignments from the Lord. Often this means putting aside our own convenience to get involved. Sometimes this means taking a risk.
There are other seasons of life when heavy loads of responsibility are lifted. A new city, a lost job, a child getting married, a big hole in your schedule.
Here I Am, Lord
Last month I enjoyed lunch with a friend and former BSF Teaching Leader. We talked about her adjustment to a life with little responsibility after a move. She left behind her former home and teaching role within a BSF class. And the Lord made it clear she was not to jump into anything new. It was a season of quiet and waiting. It was a lonely season. Yet it became a refreshing season that led to a new assignment from the Lord.
Today, I find myself in a new season, transitioning from a place of weighty responsibility to a stage of real availability. As I now retire from BSF, there is a big hole in my daily life. My temptation is to rush to fill it. But the Lord has spoken these words to me, “Be available.” “Ask simply to be used.” And good friends have counseled me, “Don’t take on too much too soon.” Rather than filling the hole in my schedule, I sense the Lord wants me to be available to see what He is about to do with each new week ahead.
Is there a family need?
Does a friend need help?
Is someone sick who needs food?
Is there a new assignment? Will it involve risk, a change of plans, a new direction?
For now, being available to God is enough. Jesus is with me. He has redeemed me. He has filled me with His Spirit. So, I will continue to serve Him with spiritual fervor and zeal to make disciples of all nations. Whatever it looks like, I will be available to my Savior. For a short time, I expect to serve Him in quiet, with a focus on family. I will serve Christ’s Church as a seminary board member and in my local church. And in time, I hope to explore some teaching, writing, and mentoring as the Lord gives opportunity.
But – bottom line – whether our schedules are full, open, or anywhere in between, being available to God is our worshipful response to His constant availability to us.
If we ask “Lord, how do you want to use me today?” we might find our Kingdom impact to be like an ordinary mattress salesman who asked, “simply to be used.”
BSF Executive Director
Under Susie’s leadership as executive director, BSF membership has grown to serve more than 385,000 adults and 66,000 children worldwide, and the ministry has introduced BSF Online and WordGo Bible study platforms, and four new studies – Isaiah, Revelation, and People of the Promised Land I and II (Part II coming in 2022). Susie and her husband, Roger, have been married for 45 years and have two children, Jerry and Sally, and four grandchildren.