Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
We are on week 3 of a series about posturing our hearts to hear from God. Because as women who care for others, or as women who are going through a difficult season of our own, we are desperate to hear from God. We want to know that He’s with us. We want to know what He wants us to do in this specific situation. We bring our questions and doubts to Him and wait for Him to answer.
And so we come to Him. We meet with Him.
The first R was about getting ready to meet with God. We want to prepare our physical space—getting rid of distractions and creating a sacred space that lends itself to being aware of God’s presence—but we also want to prepare our inner space, our hearts. We want to look at our beliefs to see if we even believe God will speak to us or not, or look at our spirit to see if we’re ready to hear whatever it is what He has to say to us—whether it’s what we are wanting to hear or not.
The second R was about recognizing God’s voice and movement in our lives. We want to be familiar with how He shows up. We want to distinguish His voice from the others. We want to sense His presence and invitations to us throughout the different seasons. This involves slowing down and paying attention to what is going on around us and inside of us.
So ready, recognize. Today we are going to talk about the third R: receive. We want to posture our hearts to receive whatever God has for us. What does that look like? How do we do that?
Receive Means to Accept and Believe
What does it mean to receive something from God? It means to accept it and believe it.
In some cases, as we learn to recognize God’s voice and movement in our lives, He will remind us of a truth in His Word. He’ll bring a verse to mind. He’ll highlight a promise as we’re praying. If your heart posture is open to receiving it, it means you’re going to accept it and choose to believe it.
This isn’t always easy. And notice I said, “choose to believe.” We are going to choose here whether or not we believe God. Whether or not we believe He is who He says He is. Whether or not we believe He will do what He said He will do.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a great model of receiving what God had for her. When the angel came to her to announce that she would bear the Christ child, she received his words, she believed him, even though she didn’t quite understand it all yet.
There were also two blind men—and many others—who were healed by Jesus on account of their belief. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” And they answered, “Yes.” They were able to receive that healing from Jesus because they accepted, they believed, that He had the power to heal them.
Let me share some modern-day examples with you.
When you’re struggling with loneliness and God whispers to you, “I’m here with you,” are you going to receive that word from Him and believe Him? Are you going to trust that He’s right there with you, even if you can’t sense His presence?
When you can’t seem to stop worrying about this and that, and God reminds you to give all your worries and cares to Him because He cares about you, are you going to believe Him? Are you going to trust that He does, indeed, care about you? You. That He knows your name and He knows your worries and He cares about you as a person?
When you are mourning the loss of a dear friend, and God reminds you, “I’ve known sorrow, too,” are you going to receive that from Him? Are you going to read the stories of Jesus as the Man of Sorrows and relate to Him, let Him be a friend, a companion to you, in your own time of sorrow and grief?
So there are times when God speaks a truth or a promise to us and we have to decide if we are going to believe that truth, if we’re going to receive it.
There are other times when God offers an invitation to us and, in the same way, we’re going to have to decide if we’re going to receive it or not. Oftentimes, it will be a stretch for us. It will be hard for us to do, at least initially. But as we lean into that invitation, we experience more freedom and rest than we could imagine.
When you know you’re called to care for others but you’re feeling overwhelmed, burned out, and exhausted and God invites you to “do it in My strength, not yours,” are you going to lean more on Him? Are you going to make any changes you need to, to make sure you’re doing it His way, not yours? In His strength, not yours?
When you’re grieving the loss of good health and noticing some signs of aging, and God invites you to slow down, but not stop altogether… are you going to heed His invitation and pray about ways to do that? Are you going to persevere when it feels a little hard? Are you going to encourage those who maybe fill some of your roles instead of distancing yourself from them with wounded pride?
Is your heart ready to receive whatever it is God has for you? Are you ready to receive what God has for you?
Receive Vs. Resist
Sometimes we don’t know how to answer that question. Of course, we want to be ready to receive it, but are we really?
To help us discern if we are ready to receive or not, I want to compare it with the opposite heart posture: resist.
We either receive what God has for us or we resist it.
Jonah resisted… When God called him to go preach to the Ninevites, Jonah said, “No.” He went the other way. He ran away.
Pharaoh resisted… When God commanded Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, Pharaoh refused. He hardened his heart.
There was a time in my own life when I resisted God’s invitations to me… I knew—you guys, I knew what I was doing wasn’t right, and I did it anyway. I let my heart grow hard. I resisted.
The thing is, when you are regularly resisting God, it makes it really hard to hear from Him in the first place. Because it shows that you’re not open to what He wants to share with you, which goes back to our first heart posture of being ready to hear from Him. Are you really ready to listen to and receive whatever God has for you?
So let me ask you this: When you recognize His voice, His movement, His invitation to you, are you receiving it or are you resisting?
And if you are resisting, try just to notice it without judging yourself for it, and be curious about it. Why are you resisting? What’s going on there? Be willing to explore that a little bit.
Sometimes I think we’re a bit like Moses—putting up a bit of an argument with God before finally accepting what He has said to us. Ever feel like that? And while it’s okay to be honest with God about the way we’re feeling and the thoughts we’re having, ultimately, we want to come to the place where we want what He wants for us.
Heart Posture Mimics Physical Posture
So to receive what God has means to accept it, to believe it. Whereas to resist what God has means to push against, to refuse to believe, to be hard-hearted or stubborn.
I want to offer you an image that will help you to understand this, as well, and it’s based on the idea that our heart posture often mimics our physical posture.
So a heart posture of receiving looks like a physical posture of receiving. And what do we do with our bodies when we receive something from someone else? We are turned toward them, we are looking at them, our hands are open.
A heart posture of resisting looks like a physical posture of resisting: turned away, no eye contact, closed hands, arms crossed.
So think about a recent experience with God. Maybe He reminded you of a truth or a promise found in His Word. Maybe you sensed an invitation from Him to do something. What is your current heart posture toward God in that? Are you receiving or are you resisting?
If you’d like to hear more about recognizing God’s presence and receiving what He has for you, I encourage you to listen to episode 61, which is my interview with author and spiritual director Sharon Garlough Brown.
I also want to extend a special invitation to you, if you are sensing that nudge from God to seek healing in some area of your life, to bring some painful experiences to Him to see what He has to say about them, then I encourage you to join me for this next round of Journal Gently, which starts October 3. It is an 8-week program designed to help you process grief and trauma together with God through writing. It is a trauma-sensitive approach to writing and it has a super gentle pace that allows you to care for yourself through the process.
We are just wrapping up a current round, and you guys, it has been so incredibly good. One participant said, “It has already been so healing and it’s only week one! Just the act of setting aside intentional time to journal creatively and prayerfully with the Holy Spirit has been so refreshing.”
So if you, my friend, are sensing that invitation from God to enter into a dedicated time of writing and processing together with Him, then I invite you to consider Journal Gently. You can learn more at lovedoesthat.org/journalgently. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
And, of course, be sure to join me again next week on the podcast as we wrap up this little series about posturing our hearts to hear from God: ready, recognize, receive, and… next week, we’ll talk about respond.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
- Episode 61: Perceiving God’s Presence and Love with Spiritual Director and Author Sharon Garlough Brown
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.