Spiritual practice: Receive
Perhaps this one comes more easily for you than for me. You are blessed if it does. I struggle to receive, and this can cause me to miss out on a lot. Grace, to be specific. Add “love” to the list, too. I could point to my father for this difficulty that I have, but i know that no longer excuses me. I have seen my father, but I have also seen my Father. As long as I can remember, I have watched my father give and provide. I have previously written how he speaks the language of love not as much in his words as in his actions. I have also seen my Father give in words and actions. I have a choice. To give is to do; to receive is to be. I do not “be” very well.
If you wanted to torture me, tell me I have to be still. Worse yet, put me in the middle of things that should be done, and don’t let me do them. Make me be. The danger in always doing, for me, is to take on a mindset that I can earn what I have. It is subtle, but most of the lies that undo us are subtle in nature. The enemy has to sell us something we will buy. I’ve bought. Thank goodness for the return policy.
God has promised to not only accept the fragmented and fractured pieces we give Him, but He also promises to give us something much better in return. Something that we should receive.
I don’t really know how to prescribe a receiving day for you. It was the word placed upon me before it was an act thrust upon me. I was busy doing when this practice of receiving came my way.
I had extended myself to take an extra turn in setting up the chairs and equipment for church; partly because I struggle to say “no,” and partly because it is a learned response from years of watching my father. Through some form of communication mix-up, we had less help than normal and it began later than usual. The scramble worked, and then it was off to pick up my sons. Then to church. Then to bring one son to the other site to be with the youth group. Then back. Then put away all the chairs and equipment. Then back to pick up my son. Then lunch. Do, do, do. Then…
…phone call. Mom and dad are coming to visit. That phone call is not a question, it is a warning of “We will be there.” My parents are predictable enough that I knew exactly how much time I had to prep. Prep how? Well, I should probably clear the sidewalk and driveway. Check. Clean the kitchen? Check. Move that big pile of papers off the couch? Check. Vacuum the dining room? Check. Iron that pile of clothes? Che…
Not quite. My parents showed up in the midst of my mess. (How Biblical.) Choices: Hide because I’m not ready? Silly, of course not. Do a “Just a minute..” and throw stuff behind a closed door? Tempting, but no. Open the door and let them in? Well, since a friend was walking away with borrowed sleds at the moment...yes, let them in.
Do you know why my parents drove 100 miles to see me? They wanted to give us gifts. My mother brought blankets and quilts that I can use as a fundraiser for a mission trip. They brought food, homemade bread, and jams for us to enjoy. They brought money to support two different school fundraisers for my sons. They brought a guitar that had been sitting around because a month ago I said the boys might like that. But most importantly, they brought themselves.
Consider how God does the same. Yes, God gives us gifts – gifts beyond our wildest dreams. Yes, God shows up in the middle of our mess. And yes, God loves us whether we put our pieces together or not. But what God really seems to look for is whether or not we receive Him when He knocks.
Silly as it may sound, I have to work hard to receive my parents without regard for my mess. As this event indicates, I have much work to do. Yes, there were still some untidy papers. Yes, there are things that should be thrown away. But do my parents love me less for that? Fortunately, no! They know me. They love me. They want time with me.
Another lesson I am slowly learning is that I cannot repay them. In fact, it would be foolish to even attempt. Whatever I might give them at this point would be turned right back around. But I do have one thing they cannot give back – me.
The strange thing, however, is that the way for me to give myself back to them is to receive them. I cannot give to them what I do not have. What I have is from them. What I have is them. So, in order to give myself back to them, I must make room to receive who they are.
So how do I give back to God – the One who has everything? I cannot give what I do not have, so first I must receive Him. What I have is from God. What I have is God. So, in order to give myself back to Him, I must make room to receive who He is.
Receive. It is not easy. I am still prone to a desire toward “cleaning up” my mess, but that is not what God has asked. In fact, that is precisely the reason He shows up. He knows how desperately we need Him, even if we don’t.
Work on receiving today. If you want to give yourself back to the One who has everything, start by making room and receiving the One who gives everything.