April 23, 2024

“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, “My own strength has saved me.” Now announce to the army, “Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.”’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained” (Judges 7:2-3, NIV).


I stepped into the fellows’ room to share a bit of wisdom: “You guys are not yet practicing medicine but will get there soon enough. Let me tell you how to build your practice. It’s the three As: acumen, affability and availability. I’m not worried about the first two; we train you well, and you’re really nice people. But the third one needs work. I called each of you today to report a patient problem, and neither of you answered. So, I called your attending physician. He answered right away and took care of the problem. That’s exactly what will happen in private practice. Your colleagues will call you first for a consult because you are smart and nice; but, if you don’t answer, busy doctors are unlikely to wait until you call them back at your convenience. They will likely call the next smart and nice doctor on their list to keep things moving in the hectic world of healthcare. Today you only missed an opportunity for education. In the future it will be a new patient you lose. Availability matters.”


Availability matters in medical practice, and availability matters to God.


In the verses above, the Lord had a great victory planned for Israel, but 22,000 men would miss that victory because their fear made them unavailable.


How many of us have great plans to serve the Lord someday, but not now?


For some of us, it’s money that first needs to be accumulated, for some it’s a reputation that needs building, for some a relationship too costly to sever, for some a pleasure to be enjoyed a bit longer, for some the simple satisfaction of life as it is, for some, like those above, a fear of consequences.


How many of us have been nudged by God to follow Him—whether it be to our neighbor’s yard for a chat about Christ, or to the inner city for work with the underserved, or to an international mission, or to a colleague who has failed his family, or whatever—and we said, “I’ll follow you anywhere, but just not now.”


Availability matters to God. He doesn’t need us, but He offers us the unbelievable opportunity to join Him as He redeems the world. It is we who miss the victory if we are unavailable.


Without us, God will move on to build His kingdom with one who is ready, and we will stay behind with that we chose instead.

Take heart, though; take heart and change. In my experience, if we love Him, God will often return with a different mission, and then another, and then another, until we finally say, “I’m available, now.”


Dear God,

I’m available, now.


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