When you’re truly ready to receive, you will. And not just at the altar, but everywhere you go, in everything that you do.
What Happens When You Are Not Ready To Receive
Communion wasn’t always my favorite part of Church. As a newbie, it used to be an experience I mainly dreaded. The anxiety I felt during the Eucharistic Rite was palpable. Every time I approached the altar I would wonder if I was doing everything right. Am I kneeling properly? Is this the correct way to hold my hands out? Does anyone think less of me if I dip my wafer in the wine rather than drink directly from the cup?
And did I forget to bow as I stepped out into the aisle again?!
Uh oh… I forgot to silence my phone! I better do that before someone calls and my “Soul Glow” ringtone goes off. (Or should I…?)
Every week I could feel the paranoia build. All these rules. How many eyes are on me? Do I even really belong here?
Was this the experience I was supposed to be having?
“Who” Is Ready To Receive?
Two nights before this article was due, I was struggling to come up with a topic. I kept staring at my computer, looking through my notes and trying to conjure up something that would live comfortably within the framework of “spiritual growth“. Nothing was making itself obvious, and my frustration was growing.
My wife, Emily, was sitting next to me in bed editing the latest version of my eBook Operation Joy. We had spent the last ten minutes trying to figure out whether a particular sentence called for the use of “who” or “whom”, and I could already feel the migraine coming on. In the end, I decided that I would sidestep the grammatical issue altogether and just rewrite the passage with different wording.
Though I appreciated the detour, I still couldn’t come up with a useful spiritual growth idea. I groaned and said as much to my wife.
“Why not write about the difference between ‘who’ and ‘whom’?” she said with a rhetorical smirk.
We both laughed at how ridiculous that sounded.
And then, suddenly, it didn’t sound so ridiculous.
I had recently written an article that explored the idea of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Since then I had been trying to come up with a means by which one could perceive this concept like God does. With Emily’s suggestion, I had it: God knows and Loves each of us, so He would never need to ask who any one of us is. He knows each of us by name.
We need to know each other by name! By George!
Obviously, that’s not the article I ended up writing (mostly). But because I had left myself open – because I was ready to receive the Lord – I accepted a wayward spark of creative inspiration and eventually found myself here.
What Happens When You Are Ready To Receive
Today, Communion is one of my favorite parts of the weekly Church service. I pray during the Eucharistic Rite, walk up to the altar with my wife and three-year-old daughter, and hold out my hands, ready to receive.
When I kneel, I experience so many things that bring me great Joy. The smile on my daughter’s face as she receives the blessing; the physical, mental and emotional reset that can only come from the power of God’s Grace; the direct inspiration and connection from the Lord.
I have found myself laughing at things that would have petrified “newbie” me years ago. I once dropped my wafer into the cup. Just a couple weeks ago I dropped it on the floor.
(And I have the audacity to call my wife a klutz!)
I even rejoice in the idea that everyone’s experience during Communion is completely different, because each of our relationships with God is completely different.
It’s the relationship that’s the key.
Being Ready To Receive What God Has To Offer
When I first joined the Church and set out on my walk with Jesus, I was overly concerned with whether or not God’s people were going to Love and accept me for who I was. As an artist, this is a completely natural thing. But my respect for those who had come before me, and the rules and dogmas that surrounded the experience, got out of control. For one reason or another, they became the only thing I focused on.
Because of that, when I started on my walk, I wasn’t hearing the Lord. I wasn’t ready to receive Communion because I wasn’t ready to receive what He had to offer me. There was too much noise and static in my head and in my heart.
What God has to offer is so much easier and so much simpler than what you may perceive as the rules and dogmas of the Church, or any given service. It is, first and foremost, a relationship with Him. That’s it. Everything else follows from that.
It’s really that simple.
The rules are there to guide you. They aren’t there to bind you or hold you back. After all, Jesus came, in part, to free us from the shackles of constricting guidelines so that we could have an actual relationship with Him. It’s there in the decree that you should “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is a relationship, not a rule. Otherwise… it’s not “unconditional” is it? Don’t rules make it “conditional”?
Something to ponder…
The only thing you need to do is open your heart to Him. When you’re truly ready to receive, you will. And not just at the altar, but everywhere you go, in everything that you do. Whether you’re kneeling in the pew, or laughing over a ridiculous suggestion.
Or, yes, dropping your wafer in the cup.
Regarding your spiritual growth, what do you feel is lacking? Where are you most comfortable, and where do you tend to struggle? Where do you find your spiritual experiences to be most rewarding? Share your thoughts and experiences below!
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