Reaching For The Gift

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12, ESV)

When I transitioned out of college, my friend Vicki tried to convince me I should move to Florida as I pursued playing on the LPGA Tour. I don’t think there was any measurable amount of time before I blurted in response, “I’m a West Coast girl and I will never move to the East Coast.”

Less than two years later the well-known saying, “Never say never,” mocked me. I not only moved to Florida, but I purchased a condo on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. I still marvel that I, a small town girl from Northern Idaho, am a beachside resident of Florida. I found two blessings in Florida—a place to live and practice, and adoption into the Lopez family as their blonde daughter and sister.

I am beginning to understand one reason I resist Jesus’ free gift of love is because being loved requires the act of receiving it.A lot has happened since I moved to the beach 20 years ago. I have experienced (or survived) both the blessings and hardships of 16 years of professional tour life, mostly lived out of a suitcase and not my condo. Multiple family deaths. The joys of aunthood. Retirement. A journey toward wholeness and healing. New dreams and visions to serve God. And through it all, my condo has been a consistent place of respite. It’s familiar. It’s peaceful. It’s mine.

When the recent hurricane Matthew started to track directly for Daytona Beach, it was my faithful friend, Maria “Loopy” Lopez who I reached out to. By the time I asked if she could secure my windows, it had already been done. I felt both grateful and guilty as Loopy had her own residence to secure before evacuating as well.

As the hurricane ravaged the coastline, my anxiety increased over the potential damage. All I could do was wait and I pray from afar. Loopy sent word as soon as she could… the only harm done was one blown out window and glass everywhere. Without hesitating, she spent precious time securing my window alongside of taking care of her home and family. Once again I felt the ache of being both grateful and guilty. When I shared with a friend about feeling guilty over not being there to take care of my condo, she playfully responded, “It’s hard to be loved, isn’t it?” Yes, it is. This friend of mine knew exactly what I needed to hear and the truth of her words penetrated my heart.

It is hard for me to receive being loved. A consistent message I perceived to be true throughout my childhood was that love must be earned through performance. And while the Lord has blessed me over the years with people who love and delight in me for just being me, it’s a real struggle in receiving it.

I don’t know about you, but I find this to be true in my relationship with Jesus too. It is a tangible dance between feeling I need to earn his love versus just receiving it.

I am beginning to understand one reason I resist Jesus’ free gift of love is because being loved requires the act of receiving it. The Greek translation for the word receive in today’s passage means “to take, have, catch.” To take something means we have to participate in the exchange. We didn’t earn it, but it’s being offered and we must choose to act in response. Reaching out to receive love feels vulnerable and risky. Evil attempts to convince us that love comes with a cost.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has already taken care of the cost of love. When we choose to receive (to take) and believe in the name of Jesus (his death and resurrection), his offer to receive his love and become a child of God is now ours to hold on to. We can’t earn it. We can only receive it.

Tracy Hanson
October 13, 2016
Copyright 2016 Links Players International

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