Christian Living

Being a Good Receiver

So how’s everybody’s week been? Mine was…unexpected. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m kind of a type A person. I like to plan far in advance and then stick with my plans. This whole culture of making plans on a moment by moment basis drives me a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong: I love being able to make spur of the moment plans via everyone’s cell phones but I don’t want to live that way every day.

Anyway! We had plans to be out of town but, because of factors outside of our control, we weren’t. Ironically, I just recently did the lesson in James about holding our plans with an open hand because only God knows what’s actually going to happen tomorrow. As I was grumbling about work stuff and having to reschedule/miss various things, I was reminded that I want to be a good receiver.

What do I mean by being a good receiver? In The Abundance Code, one of the presenters defined being a good receiver as being someone who, when given something, takes it and uses it to become stronger. A bad receiver becomes weaker when they get something–for example, the person who uses money to buy drugs. Less obvious are things like when I handle something with fear or resentment and the situation leads to sin or when God gives us a financial bonus and I put my security in money instead of Him.

I was reminded today that God puts the exact right things in our lives. He doesn’t allow something in His children’s lives if He’s not going to use it for something awesome. As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk, looking out my window at a grey, rainy day. It’s a far cry from the sun and sand I was expecting to see today. But it’s here for a reason. I’m here for a reason. And I have a choice to make: I can continue my grumbling and frustration or I can surrender and trust that God is doing something far more worthwhile than I can imagine.

It’s easy to get thrown when our plans don’t work out the way we want them to/expected them to–but we don’t have to stay thrown. We can move past that stress and into the peace of surrendering the situation to God. We can use those things to draw us closer to God. We can become stronger not just in the midst of stress but because of stress.

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The Art of Not Knowing–Flexible Plans

Earlier this week I was so focused on finishing my plan that I was like a bulldozer. I ignored all the little detours that were necessary and it ended up taking way longer than it should have–that whole “a stitch in time saves nine” thing? Yeah, I pretty much just let all those stitches unravel while I was focused on getting through my plan. I find myself wondering how often I do that.

James talks about holding plans in an open hand (4:13-15). We plan, but we leave room for God to change those plans. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, so if something derails my plan, I often throw up my hands in disgust and decide the evening/day is ruined and there’s no point in trying to fix it.

In Tai Chi, there’s this concept of “not knowing”–it’s the idea that we stay open to the question of what’s around us, what’s happening. It means not ever having a solid judgment about what is. Now, obviously, I believe that God gives us solid information in the Bible. It’s one of the things I love about Him–that He’s transcendent and has a third-person perspective on the nature of reality so he can reveal truth to us. However, I think there’s something to that attitude of openness.

So often I have an idea of how things are supposed to go and when they don’t go that way, I get stressed and try to force them to follow my plan. I have the feeling I probably frequently end up expending more energy than necessary and making myself miserable to boot. If I instead really believed that I didn’t know how the day was supposed to go–made my plan and held it in an open hand–I think I’d be able to view detours as adventures or maybe even short-cuts (thinking I really need to re-read The Belgariad/Mallorean!). For instance, if I get to an event and find that it’s been cancelled, I could view it as an opportunity and keep my eyes open for what God’s doing instead of berating myself for not just calling ahead and getting frustrated and upset. Or if my kids freak out and we end up spending time talking instead of getting the dishes done, maybe that’s a conversation we’re supposed to have.

So even though I have a plan for my day, I’m going to work on relaxing into the detours instead of frantically trying to hang onto my plan.

 

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The Present

Recently, we had a guest speaker at church who talked about time, specifically, the present. He said some things that really struck me. The present is the moment God is working in. He’s already worked in the past, and will work in the future, but this is the moment when I can see His hand at work. In this moment, the destinies of everyone alive are being wrought. In this moment, God is changing me. I’m so often looking to the future. I plan for what I need to get done today, tomorrow, next week, in five years—and I’m not saying those plans are unimportant. We should be wise with our time, whilst holding our plans with an open hand. But the now is where God is at work and I miss that being so future-oriented. Live in the now. The now is when God is strengthening my soul and working out His calling in me.

The speaker also talked about how we have time for all God has called us to do. We always have enough time. I don’t know about you, but I am a woman of lists. Lists that never get finished. Lists of tasks I am always juggling, fighting to accomplish. And frankly, I never complete my list. Even if my goal is just to spend time with Jesus, take care of my kids, teach them, clean my house, and get everyone meals today (let alone work on my book). It never seems to happen. There’s always something that gives. I’m trying to learn better methods of organization and better shortcuts in the tasks themselves, but still, I think I will probably just add new tasks to my lists once I have space. We are a society of people who do too much.

My husband is currently reading a book about a man God called out of the Eskimos to reach his own people. He related one particular incident that brought me up short. This man loved to spend daily time with the Lord, but then at the same time, he was a member of the tribe and had duties—one of which was to hunt. One day, early on in his relationship with God, his mother told him she would need a rabbit from him that day. It was in winter and rabbits were scarce so the young man thought he wouldn’t have time to commune with God by the time he’d finished hunting down a rabbit. However, moments into his hunt, a rabbit presented itself to him on the path and remained still until the eskimo could get close enough to shoot the rabbit. This left him free to commune with God during his remaining time. He realized God had sent the rabbit. God had provided extra time so the eskimo could be with Him. And over and over this happened to the eskimo.

It was very convicting to hear this story. I don’t know if I have ever asked, or expected, God to smooth my daily tasks. I just slog my way through the mundane things, expecting them to eat up my time. But what if I asked God to speed my way through those things so that I had extra time to spend with Him and with my family? Maybe my to-do list wouldn’t be quite so impossible.

Then again, maybe my to-do list just includes some things that aren’t on God’s to-do list. I’ve found myself praying lately that God will provide supernatural wisdom to prioritize my list so that I can pitch all the things that aren’t on His, and supernatural flexibility so that I can reorder my day according to His plan. Because maybe, just maybe He wants to do something amazing in the now, and I’m missing what’s right under my nose because I’m so focused on my future tasks.