Julianne Stanz

A Space for Grace

Stanz is director of discipleship and parish life for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Portrait of Julianne Stanz

Are you available to God?

By Julianne Stanz | The Compass | June 14, 2022

Like most people, my days are often punctuated by various appointments, whether it is at home or in ministry. “Dental cleaning” or “doctor’s visit” make a regular appearance on our family calendar as we ferry children from one appointment to the other, whether it is for dance, soccer or dental visits. 

“Meeting at the parish” or “conversation about discipleship” are events that are a recurrent theme during my workweek. Recently, as I was standing at my desk, I noticed a block of time on my calendar without any meetings at all — a rare occurrence indeed! If my co-workers had been looking to meet during that time, the time slot would have shown up as “available,” meaning “available with nothing scheduled and open to meet.” So, I took myself off to St. Joseph Chapel on the diocesan campus and made myself available to God instead. It was time very well spent.

Availability. So much in life depends on our availability. It determines how our days look, how full they are, who we spend time with and what we can accomplish. It determines our relationships and how well we get to know someone as we spend time with them. Our availability also impacts our spiritual lives and our openness to God if we stop and think about it.

Many times, our availability to God is limited to one timeslot in our day or at the end of the week. Perhaps your availability looks like 10 minutes of quiet time in the morning or Mass on Sunday morning. Or it is more haphazard than that. Despite our own availability, God is always available to us, but can we truly say that we always make ourselves available to him?

One of the lessons we learn from the sacred Scriptures is that being a Christian is not about our ability, but our availability to God and his will for us. 

When God calls us, we often respond with our lack of ability, which is only natural since we are human. Consider Abraham, for example. When God called Abraham to be the father of all nations, he responded that he “fell face down and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth at 90?” (Gn 17:17). In the face of God’s majesty, Abraham could hardly believe that God could overcome any limitation — even his age!

Moses also had a similar response. When God called Moses, Moses pointed out that he was not a good speaker. Moses responded to the Lord, “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue” (Ex 4:10). When Jesus met the woman at the well, she responded that she was a Samaritan woman — a woman rejected and marginalized by others. Matthew was a tax collector, as many people reminded Jesus. Others were just simple fishermen or carpenters. Jesus took them as they were and, with their availability given over to God, they became the greatest saints the world has ever known.

Often, when we are called to step out in faith, we reveal to God our limitations and weaknesses right away. “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not ready for this Lord” might be phrases on our lips. Sometimes we recall the voices of other people who have made us feel small or insignificant. “You aren’t holy enough” or “your life is certainly not one to emulate” might be words that others have hurled at us or said behind our backs.

No matter what, God sees beyond every limitation that we, and others, set in front of him. He seeks an openness of heart to the new life that he ushers in for us. When faced with making the impossible possible, God can do anything. We have to believe it.

When we take a step in faith toward God, he blesses it and strengthens us for the next step. It isn’t about “getting comfortable” or “knowing everything about our faith,” but about sharing with a sincere heart, how God has transformed us. He blesses not our ability, but our availability. As you think about your faith, are your days so rushed and full of tasks and projects that they leave little time to rest, to wonder and to pray? How available are you to God?

Stanz is director of discipleship and parish life for the Diocese of Green Bay and author of “Braving the Thin Places: Celtic Wisdom to Create a Space for Grace” (Loyola Press).

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