Giving and Receiving
“He is always in the process of giving!” I pounded on the dashboard of my friend’s car as we sped to the airport. The revelation just burst out of me without any prior thought. I had no idea what lay ahead after my flight or my return home. No idea how close I was to receiving the gift I had most longed for to date.
I have always sort of been bothered by Psalm 84:11, the verse that tells us that “God withholds no good thing from those who love Him.” It just seems… untrue. How many prayers have you seen fall flat? How many rejections? How many heartbreaks, how many closed doors? How much disappointment have you experienced? How many promises seem still unfulfilled? Dreams still feeling miles away or totally impossible? Every single one of us has been touched by these realities in our lifetime—some more than others.
Now… obvious rejections and clearly closed doors can sometimes be easier to write off. We can say, “well, obviously it wasn’t good, so it doesn’t count. God is withholding because it wasn’t good.” And maybe that’s true. Sometimes, at least.
It’s the silent ones. The “I swear I heard Him promise” ones. The “I’ve been praying for 20 years for marriage/a child/healing/miracle/restoration/reconciliation” ones. The “I was born to do this and I can’t shake it” ones. Those are the good things that cause us to question Psalm 84:11. When we are desiring something that seems unquestionably good and there’s only radio silence on the other end of the line, it sure as hell seems like withholding.
God is always in the process of giving.
Think about the last time you gave a gift to someone you love dearly. Think about the steps that went into that process. You thought about that person. You thought about what they like and don’t like, what they desire and what they already have. You spent time looking at different gift options before settling on just the right one. You may have looked at several different versions of that gift from several different stores, you may have done some price comparison. Maybe you didn’t have room in the budget to buy it right then, so you saved up or you planned to buy it next month. After you purchased the gift, you chose the way you wanted to present it. You probably wrapped it and wrote a little note. You waited to give it until the appropriate time, be it Christmas or the birthday or the anniversary or the wedding.
And then you handed it over to the recipient. You watched them open it, or talked to them on the phone right after. You experienced the joy of their receiving what you had given them.
Friends, we reduce the act of giving to the single moment of transaction between the giver and the recipient. But that does not capture the whole picture of what it means to give a gift. From the moment you began to ponder your loved one and explore options of what to give… you were in the process of giving. Your careful choice of gift, the money and/or time you (earned and then) spent, the time you spent wrapping and preparing the gift, and the moments leading up to hand-off were ALL parts of the giving process.
Receiving a gift takes only a few moments, but giving a gift is a long, thoughtful process.
This, I think, is what Psalm 84:11 promises us. God is always in the process of giving. He hand-selects every component of the good things He gives. He is continually delighting in us, thinking of what we like and don’t like, choosing just the right gift at just the right time, and presenting it to us in the most perfect way.
We are the recipients of His gifts, and it is easy to lose hope when we limit the scope of receiving to the moment of transaction between the Giver and ourselves. In other words:
If God is always in the process of giving, then we are always in the process of receiving.
What would it look like to live as though we are continually in the process of receiving? It is, after all, the entire crux of the Gospel. I recently listened to a sermon in which the pastor asked, “What is the job of the branch? The branch’s sole job is to receive the nutrients that the roots provide.” Our whole job is to receive. To abide, to dwell, and the receive the continual gift-giving of the Root.
Listen…living this way feels…vulnerable. It feels like inviting disappointment. Until we remember who the Giver is. Until we discipline ourselves to look for the gifts, both big and small, daily. Living with the faith that we are always in the process of receiving opens us up to a hope so wide and vast, we have no choice but to bloom.
That day when I banged on the Jeep dashboard and cried out that God was always in the process of giving, I was waiting to see a dream fulfilled. I had thought God had given me dreams about my future husband, and I moved from the other side of the globe in faith. But in the year and a half following, there was no sign of the promise. I was giving up hope. I had no idea that day in the car that once I got on the plane, I was about to experience Spirit in ways I’d never dreamed of. I also had no idea that when I returned to Texas, my biggest gift yet would pick me up from the airport and, as he describes, “have the veil lifted from my eyes.” And guess what? God is still in the process of giving me my husband every day as we grow and mature together.
Today, on the eve of my 30th birthday, I’m reconciling the disappointment I’ve carried in this decade with the promises from my ever-giving God. I’m settling into being a continual receiver. I’m rejecting, renouncing, and repenting of my grasping, my resentment, my impatience, my willingness to so easily surrender hope in exchange for disappointment. I want to carry nothing into this next decade except what is mine as a beloved daughter of the ultimate Father.
Friend, I don’t know what good thing it is you are longing for today. Do not give up hope. Remember your position as the branch who receives what the Root collects. Remember,
God is always in the process of giving, and you are always in the process of receiving.
“For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise!
Wrapping himself around me like a shield,
He is so generous with His gifts of grace and glory.
Those who walk along His paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need,
for He provides it all!” Ps 84:11 TPT