I have felt like God has been whispering the word “receiving” in my ear for several months now. It’s been sort of the theme of the year so far…And I want to unpack that a little in my blog today. What is so special about this word that I keep misspelling every time I write it?
At church on Sunday when I’m leading worship, I’m thinking about forgetting myself and coming into the presence of the Lord, giving Him praise and attention that He deserves. At home with my kids, I’m thinking about teaching them about Jesus, how to treat one another, and how to control oneself (things I’m still learning for myself!) In other different callings and things I’m involved in, I’m thinking of what I can contribute. And all the while, the Lord is whispering the word: Receiving. As I give, I must be simultaneously receiving–like an IV connecting me to the hidden place in Christ–and to be quite honest, if I’m not, I expect it to be necessary for the Lord to let the stream of “ministry” pouring out of my time here on earth run dry. He’s done it before, and I bless Him for it! No one needs Lyndsay…they need Jesus pouring through me. And in community, I don’t need you…I need Jesus pouring through you. How can this happen? Through doing more stuff for each other? Lists? Committees? Small groups? No, through receiving. Those other things are just about organization, which is helpful, but they can easily be empty, dry, man made.
Selah comes to me sometimes in tears feeling like she doesn’t know how to “know” God, and I remember feeling that way for years and years. My expectation of myself was to have awesome quiet times and never lag in that connection, try to keep a clean record and a star chart of good behavior…but that wasn’t knowing God (at all) and so it was a blessing to fail over and over, to finally learn that this relationship with God thing is all about, yes, receiving. I began to put every day items in a little box and give them to her, letting her realize the correlation that the Wite-Out, the pencil, the whatever, is there for the taking, to use, to enjoy, to help her schoolwork to be easier, but that until she took it, unwrapped it, and did something with it, she had not received it. Oh, to learn to let Him lavish us with His gifts! I’m not talking about material stuff; that’s so cheap. God gives us what we need, but I mean, so much more…cleansing and grace, friendship and counsel, peace and joy.
Isaiah 55 says, “Come all you are thirsty, come to the waters and drink!! And you who have no money, come, buy and eat!” When we come with empty hands and space in our heart, that’s exactly where He wants us to be. Are we doing everything right in our lives? Are we where we’re supposed to be on this planet, doing what we’re made for? We’ll know only through coming and receiving. It’s a step we can’t skip…it’s a step we must learn to stay on as well. “Why spend your money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy?” Our good works and efforts to please the Lord through following strict rules or doing what others think we should doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t bring us closer to the One Thing that satisfies. And He says, “Come to me and I will give you what you need. Your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Seek Me while I may be found (the time is now!) I will have mercy and will freely pardon, and I’ll give you my Word which will never fail to accomplish what I sent it to you to accomplish.” It’s like He’s saying, I’ve led the horse to water but I cannot make it drink. This part is something only we can do.
This whole thing is about receiving! Receiving difficulties–as Fenelon said in my last blog–and entrusting ourselves to Him in the midst of them. Receiving grace–no longer trying to make it on our own into a special club of His favorites (we’re already in it, yes, we are all His favorites!) Total trust is when we just receive because we believe He allowed it, and if He allowed it, therefore it has meaning and purpose in His loving plan for us and is to be accepted. When I live in a posture of receiving, I can’t help but simultaneously live in a posture of giving. When I live in a posture of receiving, then anxiety about “living right for God” is replaced with thankfulness that He would let me come so near and not have to do anything to “earn my keep.”
What made me think of all this today is I was watching the musical Annie with my kids this afternoon. There’s this part where Annie walks into Mr. Warbuck’s mansion for her weeklong visit and is greeted by all the staff, and Ms. Ferrell says, “Annie, what would you like to do first?” And Annie, who has worked at the orphanage night and day for her whole life, smiles and says: “I’ll start with the windows, then the floor…” And Ms. Ferrell says, “Annie, you aren’t going to be doing any work here!” And Annie says, “Well, how will I earn my keep?” Ms. Ferrell replies: “Oh, Annie, you’re our guest!” I could not stop the tears as I watched this today. I was imagining us in God’s Kingdom finally understanding that we don’t have to earn our keep. That we are His guests. We are receivers. Every calling, every position, every job, every role, every effort, every act of obedience flows naturally from a life of receiving, and the flow has an effect that we never thought possible.