Being a “baby in Christ” never seemed to be a very desirable aspect of spirituality for most of my Christian life. I thought of it as something to be moved through quickly so that I could get on to the really important, grown up stuff like spiritual warfare and taking cities for Jesus. From my Sunday School days, “Babes in Christ” for me were the folks that were still learning their books of the Bible and didn’t know the names of all the disciples yet.
Wow. Did I have that wrong!
I didn’t even realize that some of this old thinking was still there, until I encountered the Growing Up in God teachings, where I discovered a whole new, much more hopeful and delightful journey on offer with many more layers than I ever imagined. And I saw aspects of growth that I was so eager to get through quickly, that I had missed a number of the treasures that each held.
Each stage of development holds unique ways of relating to God that we are never meant to leave behind, but to continually discover greater depths of — including babyhood. As Graham so skillfully unwrapped, babies are excellent receivers… in fact, it’s really all they do. They can’t cook, or clean or care for themselves — and yet we value and love them dearly.
As the conference continued, and in the weeks and months that followed — I became aware that there was a deeper level of receiving that I had yet to explore; a greater level of joyful dependency with a Father that adores me. Time and again, the words Graham shared came back to me:
I think every day is about receiving a gift. For a couple of decades, I have known what it is each day to have a gift given because if you are meant to become like Jesus, you are meant to be made in fullness of His image. So that means every day you have to receive something, and you have to receive it consciously…Every day there is a gift somewhere in your day. It might not be first thing in the morning; you might get it last thing at night. But you are going to get something that day because when you are learning how to live in Christ, you are learning to live how Jesus abundantly lives with his Father.
It’s led to a reinvention of my mornings with Jesus. It’s become a much more intentional, expectant time of receiving, as well as worshipping. “What’s the gift You have for today?” has become a question that brings a smile to His face. Sometimes, He answers clearly. Sometimes, He is quiet. On the quiet days, I know that my delight will be recognizing the gift when it appears. I think I’ve come to love those days best because it’s a kind of divine hide-and-seek, for the same reason that kids enjoy that game: because it’s fun!
I remember the first day where it was time for bed, and I hadn’t seen His gift yet. I walked back through the day in my mind and I wondered where it had been. I could hear the Holy Spirit chuckling as He pointed it out — and instantly, I thought He had made a mistake. He pointed to something I saw as a problem. It had delayed me for several hours and had cost a lot of money. But through His eyes, I began to see the gifts of provision that He had given in the very situation I thought was so challenging. From His perspective, He saw opportunities where I had only seen obstacles.
From that place, I’ve continually discovered greater depths of being a Champion Receiver. I realized that I had limits on my capacity to receive that God didn’t have. There were days I disqualified myself based on my perceived lack or poor behavior, while He was giving me a gift of His kindness and unconditional love. Sure, I needed to repent… and He was giving me a gift of goodness that led to that wonderful place (Romans 2:4).
In the exploration of receiving as a beloved child does, I began to see a familiar verse in a completely different light:
“Freely you have received. Freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)
I always thought about this verse in terms of God giving freely to us… but what if there was an upgrade available on my ability to “freely receive.”
How free was I in my receiving?
What limits was I putting on God’s mercy, grace, kindness and provision that He didn’t have? Was I still trying to earn what was His good pleasure to give? (Luke 12:32)
A baby has no limits on receiving. Imagine an infant who waves off a parent from the 8th diaper change that day so that they won’t be an imposition. Or a toddler who sorts their Christmas presents to be sure that the number of presents equals the amount of chores they’ve done in the past year. No way!
Are these children being greedy, inconsiderate or thoughtless? No! They’re being children!
Like all good fathers, our Father God’s greatest joy is to see His beloved ones receive, grasp, dive in and squeal with delight over His treasures. The Kingdom is a gift that is given (Mark 4:11). So is the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), Jesus (Romans 5:15), righteousness, (Romans 5:17), eternal life (Romans 6:23) and even the ability to obey and do what pleases God (Philippians 2:13)! Not to mention the vast array of spiritual gifts of healing, teaching, prophecy…. the list goes on and on.
My first stance is no longer trying to figure out what I will need, but to wonderfully come each morning in rest, with the expectancy of a beloved daughter and receive. Receive His love. Receive His grace. Receive new levels of peace, or joy, or rest… that will fill me for whatever the day holds.
And in doing so, I continue to become more and more like my mother’s favorite picture of me when I was about 18 months old…. a very chubby, smiling little girl in pajamas, waking up from a nap with both arms outstretched, waiting to be picked up, loved and delighted in… a joyful babe.
Which is a good thing.