Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Joy of Receiving

It is one of those blustery, windy, raw January days that is, unfortunately, not unusual here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The bright winter sun brings energy to what could be a dreary day.  The cold weather, of course, did not dissuade us from church today or even a few errands afterward.  I am thankful I can spend the rest of this day “enjoying” winter by looking out at it.

It was winter, a few years ago, when Charlie and I decided to drive south to North Carolina to visit our son and his wife.  Winter was in full bloom here in the U.P. so the farther south we drove, the more mild it became.  Raleigh offered us a great visit with our kids PLUS much warmer temperatures.

We were on an excursion to a local health food store when Charlie’s cell phone rang.  He looked at caller id, recognized the name and answered.  It was one of his guy friends calling to ask some strange questions.  I have forgotten the questions but they had something to do with our garage, and was it locked, etc.  We were puzzled but didn’t take a lot of time to really think about the call, as we were busy enjoying a break from our routine at home.

Toward the end of our trip, before heading home, we checked the weather and saw our town was getting dumped with snow.  Groan….  That little break we had in N.C. was going to have to hold us for a while!

As usual, we completed the return trip in one long day, starting very early in the morning and arriving sometime after midnight.  As we got closer and closer to home, we began to think about all the snow that must be piled up and what we would have to do just to get into our driveway. As we rounded the corner and our home came into view….what?!!!  ALL of the snow had been removed from our driveway and sidewalks!  We have a double lot on a corner so there is a LOT of space to cover.  ALL GONE! We were flabbergasted, and very thankful.  We surely did experience the joy of being on the receiving end of such a loving act of service.

Exhausted from all that driving, we dropped ourselves into bed in a very thankful state of mind.  The next day we went through a short list of people we thought might be responsible.  I called my brother but he said it wasn’t him.  Within a few days, after making some inquiries, we learned that a couple of men from our church family were responsible; men with wonderful servant hearts.  I took cookies to them as a very small thank you.  I wanted them to know that there was great joy in receiving.

Jesus told His disciples in the second part of Matthew 10: 8, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  In Acts 20: 35 Paul is giving a farewell to the leaders of the Ephesian Church and he reminds them, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (He is actually quoting Jesus.) Both of these scriptures are in context with what is happening in the moment.

These verses speak to my heart in this way: when we have received Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, when we have received grace from others in God’s family, when we have really understood the blessings we have received…then, we have a heart to give freely, unabashedly, joyfully.

That wintery season, Charlie and I received a gift from men who loved and served the Lord.  Out of that “Jesus” love came a desire to give us the gift of a snow free driveway and sidewalks.  We received with joy that gift, and we received it as a sign of God’s unfathomable love.  Who in your sphere of influence needs to experience the joy of receiving?  How can you express the love of God through an act of service?  Whether you give…OR receive…you will experience the joy that comes from the heart.



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