In Part I, I told you about how my crazy husband got me so, so good with a surprise birthday party. I began explaining all that the Lord had revealed through this one event in my life. Here is Part II.
My first lesson was that I can trust God with the desires of my heart. But the second and perhaps more important lesson is: Do I know how to accept gifts from Him when He sets out to fulfill my desires? Through my birthday extravaganza, the Lord showed me that I don’t really know how to receive from Him. Let me explain.
I told you that my instinct was to run away from the gathering of loving friends. In the middle of the night, I went back to the Lord to ask Him why. He explained that as long as Jana was giving to someone else, Jana was fine. But when someone wanted to give TO ME, then my hard drive went haywire. Somewhere in my God belief system, my programming was distorted. I believed to the extreme that “it is better to give than to receive.” So much so that I felt guilty, selfish, even sinful if I was ever given something. Not from God, you understand, but from other people. When other people tried to bless me, I felt vulnerable, undeserving, lacking. Do you hear that worth bell tolling?
To clarify, this scripture about giving is specifically geared toward stewarding money. Yet this verse had been manipulated into a theological equation that totaled: giving, giving, giving. Only it didn’t quite add up.
You see, Jesus has his own doctrine:
Love one another.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Love as I have loved you.
Somewhere in His doctrine there must be recipients. Somewhere there is a giver AND receiver. Just look at Christmas. Look at the gleeful children so ready, eager and waiting to Receive their Christmas gifts. God Himself says: “Unto you a child is born, unto you a Son is given.” We have to Receive the Child that has been given to us. Receive the life He gives to us. How powerful now is the refrain, “Joy to the world. The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.”
At my surprise birthday party, I was going through card after home-made card. Reading scriptures, pictures and stories of how God had connected my life to others and how we had all been changed. We were gifts to each other. Gifts to be received. This wasn’t a one way street. This wasn’t a benevolent, unconnected exchange. This was flesh and blood interactions. It was God’s life poured out through our lives, into my life. It was Emmanuel. God with us. In us, through us, for us….
So revelation number 2: To really experience the Christ life is to Receive Him, His love and gifts — especially as they come through the hands of others….