Receive

God’s gifts far surpass our receptivity. How can we grow as appreciative receivers? Friendship and marriage teach us receiving is not all passive; receiving is the complement not the opposite of giving. With God as with people can we become more gracious receivers, less mere receptacles, getters or takers?

Moses received the stone tablets of the law inscribed by God’s finger only after a 40-day mountaintop fast. By then he was ready to receive them not only physically but more importantly to listen, receive and accept their God-breathed message. Could solitude, being outdoors, and going without physical food increase receptivity to God?

Maybe sometimes for some people. Yet others receive the Word in crowds or where two or three are gathered, in prisons, hospitals, homes or churches, with full stomachs and even in conditions of extreme sensory overload.

Jesus is the key to clear reception. Listen: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And later: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses….to the ends of the earth.”

There is probably no image that expresses so well the intimacy with God in prayer as the image of God’s breath. We are like asthmatic people who are cured of their anxiety. The Spirit has taken away our narrowness (the Latin word for anxiety is angustia /narrowness) and made everything new for us. We receive a new breath, a new freedom, a new life. (Henri Nouwen in Reaching Out)

May we all be in training as wide receivers!

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