the joy of receiving

As Christians, we’re taught to give and serve… and I believe with all my heart that God blesses us so that we can bless others.  I’ve often been a recipient of many people’s generosity.  In fact, I’ve blogged in the past about not living a life of being indebted but graciously accepting people’s generosity.  Well, when you’re on a service/missions trip, it’s hard to receive because you go with the mentality of giving and serving the less fortunate.  Two weeks ago, a team of 29 Americans went to the Dominican Republic to serve the children of Compassion International projects.  We went with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with the kids… and to pass out 2,000 Operation Kid-2-Kid backpacks and bookmarks decorated by children all over the US and Canada along with Nuevo Testamento en español.  We visited total of eight projects over four days.  With each project we visited, we were greeted with a special program they had prepared for us.  We were told that they rarely get a huge number of visitors all at once, and it’s a big treat for them.  The special programs usually consisted of songs, body worship (is this just a Korean-American term?  if it is, it’s dance to praise worship.  see below), drama, and one project even gifted us souvenirs to remember DR by.  At each project, we felt that we were given the special treat and blessings!  We shared many hugs, photos, conversations in broken Spanish, and laughs!

This is my fourth OK2K trip, and each one has taken a huge piece of my heart!  It just never gets old… Well, as I started to think about how blessed we were by the special treatment we got from these children and projects, there was a tinge of guilt… wait, we came to give and serve, but we feel like we’re being given and served so much more!!!  What is wrong with this picture?  Well, what IS wrong is that by feeling guilty, I was robbing the joy of the project leaders and kids who had prepared so hard to share their expression of worship and gratitude.

I love finding the prefect gifts for the people in my life… but if they don’t receive it with joy, then my feelings are hurt.  In the same way, I realized that there is so much joy and blessing in giving/serving out of generosity… and when the recipient doesn’t receive this gift with joy, that giver is robbed of their joy.  The kids at the projects couldn’t bless us with material things, but they gave us their hearts and shared the love of Christ with us… the greatest gift!

I think pride gets in the way of receiving with joy… We talk about how we need to give and serve… and don’t get me wrong.. I think we can all do better in that area.  However, we rarely talk about receiving with joy and allowing others to experience the joy of serving!  On a related note, I think we also lack in receiving God’s grace with joy… but I realize that this topic is for another blog.  Soooo… this is one of my big lessons from my trip to the Dominican Republic.  There are a lot more… and those blogs will follow (trust me!)

Coincidentally (actually it’s God’s timing… total God Sighting!), my devotional on the day I left the DR spoke right into my heart:

Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed.  This is nonsense-thinking because no one deserves anything from Me.  My Kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.  When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved.  When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice.

I may not have a lot of money but I consider myself one of the richest and blessed person in the world!  Gracias a Dios!


I am ridiculously blessed…

I have been a recipient of unimaginable kindness and generosity of family and friends throughout my life… I thought about writing them all down, but it would literally take me days, but here are few to give you an idea:

  • My grandparents along with my aunts & uncles took me in and raised me for four years after my mom passed away.  At the time, I had no idea how much they gave… but they put me through school, very expensive piano lessons from a college professor, and everything else I needed.
  • 2 Grandmas and 7 aunts stepped in to take on the role of my mom… they did a bunch of mom-duties such as taking me to get my ears pierced, taking me shopping, life talks, etc…
  • A relative wired me $2,000 when my financial aid took forever to come through during my sophomore year in college.  With that money, I paid for my rent, food, books, etc…
  • Many friends put me up on weekends when I attended seminary in LA, and commuted up to SF to do ministry for three years!  All of them were gracious hosts, and some even gave me a spare key.
  • My friend gifted me a $500 digital camera when I mentioned that I wanted a camera to take photos on my trip to Brazil (this is when digital cameras first came out, and costed this much–that was for 5 mega-pixels, and we were “wow” over it).
  • My friends lent me their car to drive for months after my car was broken into for the 3rd time out of my driveway.
  • And of course, I have to mention countless free meals I have enjoyed from my pastors, friends, and family members… and this is important to mention because FOOD is my love language!
  • I’m constantly told that I’m being prayed for… via email, text, facebook, phone calls, and in person!
  • And the latest… a friend voluntarily paid for my airfare to Dominican Republic, a service trip coming up in less than 2 weeks.

I have mentioned a lot of BIG things above… but I’ve been blessed in so many small ways as well… including all the rides my friends gave me to airports, which is A LOT!!!  When I think about how much I have received from so many people, I feel indebted to them… and there isn’t enough “thank you’s” to express how grateful I am.  What’s even more amazing is that they all did it without expecting anything in return!!!  Seriously???  Each one of these amazing people in my life have extended the love of Jesus to me in tangible ways!  It’s overwhelming to be on the receiving end!

I know some other people in my life whose mantra is “don’t let anyone do anything really nice for you because they’re always going to want something in return.”  They calculate everyone’s kindness… and it makes me sad.

I couldn’t possibly repay everyone for their generosity in my life.  I feel indebted to so many.   Most of all, I’m indebted to Jesus, my Savior.  Thankfully, Jesus willingly died and rose again for my sins, and He doesn’t expect me to repay Him.  What He wants is for me to love Him with my heart, soul, and mind… and to live a life that overflows out of my growing love for Him.

I have been incredibly loved and blessed by so many… I can’t help but to feel indebted, but it’s being replaced by this thing called love & grace.  It’s not about feeling the need to repay, but being humble enough to graciously accept love and generosity of others… and to extend that love and generosity to others…