By Brock Bondurant
John 1:11-12 – He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”
Upon some reflection recently, I felt the Spirit sharing with me that it is a time to receive. The current season of my life has had me in preparation, in waiting, and then now receiving.
I got engaged to my now wife (of one week!) back in July. From that moment on there was much preparation to do. Not just preparation for a wedding, but preparation of our hearts in the gift to come – marriage to another. When the preparation was completed we entered a time of waiting – waiting for my bride, her for her bridegroom, as she walked down the aisle to receive and to be received.
As I reflect back on this experience after our mutual reception, we were able to experience the blessing of receiving such a gift – one another – after the hard work of preparation and the seeming monotony of waiting. Because even if we had prepared, even if we had waited, the coming gift doesn’t become a gift until we receive it. In other words, my bride doesn’t become my wife until I receive her at the altar; same for her receiving a husband-to-be. We could have prepared for the wedding day – decorated the venue, bought the suit, the dress, and rings, and participated in premarital counseling – but if either one of us didn’t show up on wedding day intent to accept the other, all would be in vain; the gift unreceived, the blessing unexperienced.
This kind of reminds me an NFL game that I once watched. In 2016, the New York Jets were kicking off to the Buffalo Bills. In football, as one team kicks off the other is (or should be) set up to receive in order to take possession of the ball. Only in this circumstance the Bills did not receive the free kick headed their way. They stood and watched the ball land in front of them and roll towards their own endzone. This inevitably leads to the easiest touchdown ever scored by an opposing team, simply because the Bills didn’t receive the ball.
Having played football myself, and in particular playing a lot of special teams (kickoff, kickoff return, etc.), I can tell you that there is a lot of preparation that goes into each game. The Bills, through practice and watching film, would have spent all week preparing their return formation and blocking scheme in order to receive this kick and experience success against their opponent. They prepared all the way up unto the kickoff by getting set in formation and awaiting the kick. The problem being that the one whose job it was to catch the kick did not get into position to receive. In a couple moments of hesitation and confusion, the kickoff team ran down the field and received his gift for him, resulting in a touchdown.
I wonder how often or lives resemble the same?
God, through the coming of his Son Jesus, offers us a free gift if we will only receive it. Jesus then gives us the opportunity to receive daily, through the Holy Spirit, the life he has on offer. In each of these circumstances – salvation and life abundant – a gift is extended. But until we stretch out the hands of our parched soul (Psalm 143:6), until we seek the Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33), we will not receive the gift on offer. What gifts of the Lord have I rejected in my ignorance to receive? What is the Lord inviting me into currently that I must receive in order to enjoy?
During Advent, we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We wait in yearning and desperation to, at his coming, receive him with gladness and thanksgiving. Our preparation and waiting have produced in us a reverence for which we inwardly groan and yearn for the gift. We look to our Father and ask for the coming of the Son, for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened (Luke 11:10); because as we see in the football video, receiving requires something from us. Now, by definition a gift is a gift because it is nothing of our own doing (see Ephesians 2:8). In other words, the returner can’t receive what isn’t kicked, and we can’t receive what isn’t given. God’s gift comes to us, not ours to him. But we have a choice to make of whether we will receive it or not. Will we accept his gift, or watch it roll into the endzone? Our decision to this will determine our outcome. The ball in our court so to speak.
Will you, have you, receive(d) the free gift of salvation that God offers through Jesus?
Will you receive the gift of the abundant life on offer from Jesus today (John 10:10)?
Ways to receive this season of Advent:
- Consider the gift Christ has on offer. Is he who he says he it? Does he grant salvation? Who was this baby that was born?
- Spend time with the Lord in prayer and in silence & solitude, asking and seeking of the Lord as Jesus instructs (Luke 11:9-10). Remember his name: Immanuel – God with us.
- Spend time in corporate worship – singing, praising and praying with a community of fellow believers. Attend Church services, host and attend meals with friends, etc.
- Give. Discover the gift of receiving through the act of giving – your time, resources, and talents – to those in need and those who you are grateful for.