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Monday, October 22, 2012

Receiving or Refracting

What is a gift?  Isn’t it something given voluntarily without payment in return?  If we have to pay for it, is it really a gift?  I would say it is likely a “purchase”, not a gift.  Why is it we treat God’s “gifts” as something similar to a purchase?  We try to “pay God back” for his grace – a gift of undeserved favor on his part. We try to “pay God back” for the gift of salvation – a gift whose “purchase price” we were totally incapable of paying in the first place!  We need to recognize the “gifts” God gives are not something for which he ever expected payment in return.

Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.
(Proverbs 17:8 MSG)

Gifts are given – but they are also received.  If I sent a gift each day to your doorstep, brightly packaged in fine wrapping paper, adorned with a shimmering bow – but you never once opened any of them - what good would the gifts be?  In order for the gifts to “serve” their purpose, they have to be opened, put into use, and enjoyed.  Now, if you took the gift I sent each day, placed them one-by-one unopened on a shelf to admire, most people would think you were a little touched in the head!  On the other hand, if you opened each one, savoring the discovery of the “contents” of the gift, the giver of the gift would be delighted you took such interest in the gift.  The giver would be inclined to give you another, and another, and another. 

Look at what our writer tells us – RECEIVING a gift is like getting a rare gemstone - a thing of beauty refracted.  We need to understand the principles of refraction to really "get" this one.  I know the sparkle of a diamond when light hits it, and the clearness of water when light passes through it, but what does refraction have to do with us?  In short, I think Solomon may have in mind the idea we use in terms of describing how the light enters the eye, and is refracted in order to PRODUCE an image upon the retina of the eye.  Let this sink in a bit.  When we RECEIVE the gifts of God in our lives such as grace and truth, they enter into us, then they begin to PRODUCE the image of Christ within!  The process of RECEIVING allows for the image to become clear to us.  

Light enters the eye, is "bent toward" the retina in order to give us the image of what we are beholding.  Without this "entering" and the ability of the light to penetrate the surface of the eye, we'd all be blind!  In a spiritual sense, when light (Christ) enters us, his light is "refracted" to the very spot where we will begin to form the image of what it is we are beholding.  His light is "purposefully bent" so as to focus it on the very area where "beholding" needs to take place.  Grace "gifts" come, not in bushel-fulls we cannot use all at one time, but in measured ways and at various times in our lives, allowing us to put it into use (unwrap it).  Grace "beheld" today becomes grace "reflected" tomorrow.  

The other thing I remembered about refraction was more of a lesson learned from my physics class.  When light or sound tries to enter into a space, it has to pass "through" something else.  In the "passing through", sometimes light or sound is distorted.  Have you ever seen rays of sun coming in through the window and observed all those tiny particles of dust floating in the air that you'd never know were there until the light hit them just right?  If you have ever been in a dust storm and really tried to make out the images in front of you, you likely saw only a distorted impression of the image - because light was being refracted by the massive amount of dust in the air.

Now, we all have "clogged" lives, don't we?  Stuff just seems to be jammed up inside.  When God's light is entering into our lives, it often is refracted by the stuff we hold so tightly inside.  Until we clear out a little of the "clog", God's light is there, but it is not making connection with the very thing which will allow his grace, love, and peace to be PRODUCED in our lives.  Sometimes, we don't "feel like" light is getting to the spot where the image is being reflected correctly - it is probably because of the "stuff" the light is having to "pass through" in order to get at what it is aimed toward!  For reception to occur, connection has to be made.  

There must be light - this is God's part.  There must be entry - this is our part.  We have to open up to the gifts of God in our lives - grace, peace, restoration, etc.  Then there must be reception - the focusing of each of these gifts on just the right spot where recognition occurs.  Sometimes we need to unload a little in order to allow the "receptors" to be able to receive what the giver is sending our way.  Remember - the only gift which is really serving its purpose is the one which is received (put into use).  I wonder what more God could do with our lives if we began to "receive" and "reflect" instead of always "refracting"?  Just sayin!