It’s Hard to Receive if You’re Not Ready

There was something my dad would say to me while teaching me to catch a ball when I was a little boy.  It’s the same thing I said to my kids when I was teaching them to catch a ball.  And if you’ve taught your kids to catch a ball, I bet you said it, too.

Zechariah and GabrielZechariah and GabrielHere’s what you said:

“Are you ready?”

Why ask that question?  Because it’s hard to catch a ball if you’re not ready.

I think it’s also hard to receive God’s blessing if you’re not ready.

Not Ready or Ready?

Look at Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25).  When Zechariah was given the announcement that he would have a son, he responded with skepticism.  He wasn’t ready for the gift of God.  And he ended up being struck silent for at least nine months until his son was born.

But whereas Zechariah was struck silent, Elizabeth began to speak.  And while Zechariah had spoken words of doubt, Elizabeth spoke words of faith and joy—“The Lord has done this for me!”  Elizabeth was ready for the gift of God.

God Wants Good Gifts for Us

I believe with all my heart that God wants good gifts for his children.  No, I’m not talking about a prosperity gospel.  I’m talking about a life of wholeness and fulfillment and joy even in the midst of difficulty and hardship.  But sometimes, like Zechariah, it’s hard to receive the gift of God.

Why?  Because we’re not ready to receive it.

I think the same is true for our churches, as well.  Some of our churches have been struggling and declining for so long that it has become hard to even envision any kind of “success” as a church—whether that means higher attendance, more baptisms, more young families, more lives transformed, greater connection with our neighborhood, or whatever.

I’m convinced that God absolutely wants good gifts for his churches.  But, like Zechariah, we’ve been unable to receive the gift of God.

May you and I—both in our personal lives and in our churches—learn to be ready to receive the gift of God, like Elizabeth did.  May we be open to whatever God has in store for us.  May we rejoice when we begin to experience the gift of God.  And may we lean into and fully live into that gift.

Do you tend to be ready for God's gift?  Or do you tend to back away or sabotage things when circumstances start to go well?  Do you identify more with Zechariah or Elizabeth?

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