Learning to Receive

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Retrieving the mail has never held much excitement for me. If it weren't for those wonderful bills I am expected to pay, I could probably go several days without opening my mailbox -- I just don't get worked up over mail. I guess it's because when you live overseas you don't get anything interesting in the mail that often.

So you can imagine my surprise when I recently found a package sitting on top of my mailbox -- a delivery of love from a friend back home. Like a child on Christmas morning, I quickly opened the box, racing to get to the "goodies". To my delight was enclosed a copy of a newly released book that I had desperately been wanting, but unable to find. I was so excited!

After thumbing through the book, I began to clean up the mess I had made with the box and noticed the parcel stamp showing the cost for shipping the package overseas. I had no idea of the exorbitant expense that my friend had incurred to give this gift to me. When I added in the price of the hardback book, my joy turned sour and guilt racked my heart. I knew my dear friend was on a tight budget and really couldn't afford to send me a package like this. I was grateful that she had thought of me, but I had a hard time receiving the gift knowing the hefty price my friend had paid.

For days I couldn't pick up the book without a twinge of guilt piercing my spirit. Rather than enjoy my gift, all I could do was try to think of ways to repay my friend. I soon realized, however, how futile my thinking was. If I were to follow through with my "repayment plan", then I wasn't really receiving the gift, but trying to compensate my friend for her kindness. What kind of friend does that? As much as she would appreciate the reciprocity, her joy came from giving me the surprise gift in the first place. Would I really want to rob my friend of her joy?

After giving the matter much thought, I realized that the problem did not lie with the money. The problem was my unwillingness to receive. Of course some people, like my children, have no problem receiving, but for some reason I do. Maybe it's that part of me that thinks I can do it myself, I don't need help -- you know, that attitude the Bible calls pride? I knew that there was a lesson God wanted to teach me here and it would require me to lay down my pride and listen.

It wasn't long before God started speaking. It came in the form of one simple Bible verse used during a Sunday sermon at church, "My peace I give to you..." (John 14:27). Give. That is what God does. Giving is part of His nature. In fact, the Bible is full of verses that share all that the Lord gives to His children:

strength (Ps 29:11)
desires of our hearts (Ps 37:4)
that which is good (Ps 85:12, Matt 7:11)
His angels to guard us (Ps 91:11)
food in due season (Ps 104:27,28)
a heart to know Him (Jer 24:7)
a hope and a future (Jer 29:11)
comfort and joy instead of sorrow (Jer 31:13)
an undivided heart and a new spirit (Eze 11:19, 36:26)
His Word (Eze 20:11)
knowledge and wisdom (Daniel 1:17, 2:21)
rest (Matt 11:30)
His Son (John 3:16, Rom 8:32)
eternal life (John 10:28, 17:2)
the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 2 Cor 1:22)
spiritual gifts (Eph 4:7,8,11-13)
grace (Eph 3:7-8; 4:7)
eternal encouragement and good hope (2 Thes 3:16)
love (1 John 3:1)

These are all great gifts from God, but do you know the key to these gifts? Receiving them. Just as I had to freely accept the gift from my friend, we have to be willing to receive the gifts God longs for us to have.

Do you need peace? encouragement? love? God wants to pour these out to you and me. Too often, though, we are not in a place to receive them. Perhaps, like me, pride stands in your way. Maybe it's unbelief. Maybe we have asked and asked for God to shower us with one of the things I listed above and it doesn't seem to be coming our way. Have we stopped to wonder why that is? We may think that God is withholding that from us, but in reality we simply haven't allowed ourselves to accept it from Him.

This has not been an easy lesson for me to learn, but one that I know I need. I have always wanted to be a generous giver, but I need to be a blessed recipient too. How about you?

Lord, I praise you that you are the Ultimate Giver. You shower your children with great things and You do not withhold. Forgive me when I have allowed things like pride and unbelief to keep me from Your gifts. Help me Lord to be a blessed recipient of Your goodness each day.