My husband had a glimmer of excitement in his eyes as he handed me the beautifully wrapped small gift box and watched as I unwrapped it. A gold watch! Instead of being excited or thankful all I could think was, “This was too expensive! Too extravagant! Too impractical!” I wish my reaction had been different. I wish I had thrown my arms around my husband’s neck and received the gift with joy, but I didn’t. It must have grieved my husband. It grieves me now twenty something years later.
I am not sure exactly why receiving a gift was so difficult for me. Maybe I felt undeserving. Maybe it was rooted in control issues or pride. I don’t know. I only know God had to teach me to stop rejecting and start receiving. It wasn’t just my husband’s gifts that I rejected, but God’s too. I didn’t realize I was not a good “receiver.” I didn’t realize that my fears and anxiety were rooted in rejecting God’s grace but they were. I begged God for peace, for relief, for joy. He heard my prayer, and His answer came in a most extraordinary yet ordinary way.
I was a young mom of a beautiful, blonde-headed, blue-eyed, “Precious Moments” looking baby girl. It was time for breakfast so I strapped Megan into her high chair and turned toward the cabinet to get her sippy cup. I heard her sweet, small voice behind me, “Mommy, juice please.” I poured the juice into the clear cup—the one imprinted with a panda bear that had a blue lid and handles on each side. I extended the cup of juice toward her, but instead of receiving it she pushed it away. “No, Mommy, juice.” Once again, I held the juice-filled cup out to her, “Honey, it is juice.” And once again, she rejected it repeating, “No, Mommy, juice.” We went through this same scenario yet again when God spoke to me, not with an audible voice, just a simple, clear thought.
“Amy, this is how you have been with Me. All you have I asked for, I have given, now take hold of it!”
Whoa! Could it be that simple? Had fullness of life, peace, and joy been mine for the taking? Did I really only have to receive it? Had I been “thirsty” for love and “dying” for peace because I pushed away what He offered?
I found myself identifying with the wounded man in Luke 10. The one who would have to receive help or die in the ditch. He was the guy who had been robbed and beaten then left for dead on the side of the road. Satan had been the thief in my life. He had robbed me of joy, stolen my peace, and sought to destroy me. Like this wounded man, I needed Someone to find me, to have compassion on me, to pick me up and bandage my wounds. I needed Someone to carry me to safety and pay for my healing. I knew I needed this, but I foolishly rejected help (and ultimately, healing) for a very long time. Lucky for me, “Someone” kept returning, kept reaching out, kept calling to me— “I am here. I will not leave you. Will you receive my help?” Eventually I realized if I didn’t want to die in a ditch, if I truly wanted to be healed then I would need to reach out and take hold of the “juice,” the life, the living water He extended.
I wish I could say that from that day forward I never had trouble receiving again. But that isn’t true. I was a slow learner. Receiving and rejoicing never came easily or naturally for me, even after the juice incident. Yet God was a patient Teacher who year after year reviewed this lesson with me until I caught on that He didn’t want, need, or expect me to work for His love or healing but only to receive it.
I don’t understand God’s ways. I don’t understand God’s timing. I don’t know why He chose to speak through a two-year-old and a cup of juice, but sometimes He chooses the most ordinary times, places, and ways to communicate an extraordinary truth. And that is exactly what He did that day in the kitchen.
Will you reach out and receive what He offers you? It is yours and free for the taking!