Spring is beginning to come! Whether you recognize it by the flowers blooming or the surprise snowstorm, it is quite an interesting time of year. I have always been a fan of the changing of seasons. I am addicted to variety, and while I can often take the wonderful constants in my life for granted, I am very tuned in as life changes. Though seasons look quite different in the Southern hemisphere, I still enjoy learning the beauties of each season here in Zambia, and Easter brings in a very beautiful time of year. It is finally beginning to cool off after a very hot, dry and rainy season, and we are ready for the Zambian winter to come our way.
My team at work took this special time of year and the two public holidays (Good Friday and Easter Monday) to get away for our annual retreat at Lake Kariba. The change of scenery was so life-giving for me. We got to see the beautiful lake, which is the largest man made reservoir in the world, and spend time with one another away from our work and all of the other distractions that go along with everyday life.
This renewing time brought about a fresh perspective, and as I sat down to read the first chapter of John on Easter morning, a new word stood out to me more than ever before.
“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:11-12
How do we receive the God of the Universe who made his home among us, in spite of us, because of us?
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Receiving something sounds so simple, but many of us chose to reject Him instead. How does that work? How did His own people miss the opportunity to receive Him? How do I miss opportunities to receive Him?
I know personally, I struggle to receive Christ when I am distracted by my own desires for my life above the higher plans and desires the Lord may have for me. It’s like I am on the boat trying to get somewhere I have pictured in my head, and then I miss the beauty of the sunset, the birds flying about, and the opportunity to just be because I am focused on where I want to go.
It’s not bad to have goals or to pursue the desires God has uniquely placed on our hearts, in fact, I believe that is part of how God made us. However, we have to realize that we only get to see a small part of the picture that God is creating through His relationship with humanity. We have to remember that above all else we are to receive Christ in every aspect of our lives. As we diligently seek Him, He will take care of the rest.
Receiving is not about anything we have done or anything we are going to do. It is a simple response, but in the end it means everything. Receiving is not something we can be self-righteous about, because it takes very little effort and will power. At the same time, we must receive to experience true freedom and reflect our Creator. Receiving takes humility and acknowledging the need for the saving power of Christ who came to die so that we might live.
Rejection is also an easy response. It can be so subtle, even seemingly innocent. We can reject Christ by choosing to pursue other good things before Him. We can reject Him by ignoring that small voice that urges us to do something, to say something, to reach out to someone, because it is more comfortable to do what we want instead. Rejection, when practiced over and over again, can become automatic and we will hardly even notice we are truly convicted and consciously take the time to look to Jesus.
Thankfully, we are not on our own. God has extended His hand in grace to us, knowing our tendency to forget what we know is good. He has given us His Spirit, that small quiet, guiding voice that is with us deeply urging us to receive Christ. We can ask Him for the strength to receive, we can ask Him where we have chosen to reject, and we can ask Him to guide us back to the plan that He has for us.
When I picture myself receiving Christ through the day in and day out, I have to ask for my eyes to be opened. I have to ask for Him to help me see the way that He sees, treat people the way He would treat people, love the way He loved. If we have received Christ, not only do we believe he is who he says he is, but also we become one with who he is. We must wrap our lives around the message He preached. For some this means selling everything we have and giving to the poor. For others it means standing out in the work place, or taking the time to know and serve our neighbors.
What can you do to receive Christ today? Where have you chosen to reject Him or His voice? Who can you talk with, pray with, or share with about receiving Christ?
May God help us to receive Him amongst all the chaos and distractions around us. May He save us from ourselves and our sin that allows us to reject Him. Let us cling to His grace in all things and remember the God who came to save that we might receive and be made right with Him again.