It’s Advent time again. My favorite time of the year.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
There’s one word in this passage that really jumped off the page for me. Wanna guess?
Sometimes I think I really miss the point. I’m always set on building, expanding, growing — working. Seldom do I set myself on receiving. But what does John remind us of? He came to those that did what? Received him. Not to those who…deserved Him, worked the hardest for Him, sacrificed the most for Him, knew the most about Him, were His own people. He came to those who received Him and I think it still works that way.
It’s in passages like these that I find a great source of humility. I seem to spend most of my time thinking of ways I can do something to give to God instead of humbly accepting His grace, mercy and new life. Most of us would probably say that it’s harder to give than to receive and I think most of us would be wrong.
Receiving takes preparation and I think I miss the point the most when it comes to preparation. What does preparation for receiving, for entering, involve?
- Enter: it implies movement. So we should be able to move, which would then imply the freedom to move and the courage to move and the direction to move. Also, the lighter we are, the faster we move, the more responsive we become…which leads to #2.
- Receive: it implies a capacity to receive. Capacity could mean space, as in, “is there any room for me to put this?” It could also mean ability, as in “am I able to receive?” This last question implies an openness, a posture, a realization of the need for and the offer of what is to be received.
How are we prepared to receive Him and enter into His kingdom? Are we free of entanglement and extra weight so that we can respond when movement is necessary? Do we have space to receive Him, do we even hear Him knocking, and will we even open the door?
I think its helpful to think about how a child packs for a trip or vacation. If you were to tell a 6 yr old to get packed for a week long trip to disney world, what might you find in their bag? The bag would be some tiny mickey mouse backpack and there would probably not even be any extra clothes. Maybe a few toys, something for Mickey to autograph, who knows what else. You would immediately say, “You’re not ready to go! You need this, and this, and this, and…”. Soon the small, light bag of necessities becomes a piece of luggage that the child can’t even move. Why do children not pack the stuff they need? They did; we just thought they needed more. The final question to ask is this: “Was the child more prepared to enter Disney World and receive all that it had to offer with his small mickey mouse backpack or his big piece of luggage?” I think the answer might have something to teach us about the way we journey through life.