Giving and Receiving

Currently, I am seeing that God freely gives, and that none of what he gives is in the least contingent upon who we are or what we do. I am also seeing that what God most earnestly desires to give is his very own life. However, I also see that we cannot receive what he gives when our hearts are full. To receive, we must have empty and open hearts. Personally, I have never really been a materialistic kind of person, and in some measure have known better than to seek satisfaction in the things that I own, or the experiences and services that I have access to. And yet, as I have been processing how little of God’ life I experience I believe that God has shown me many subtle ways that my heart has developed little room to receive what he is giving.

In this season of Advent, I am seriously praying about all of my relationships: my relationship to money and possessions, my relationship to time, my relationship to television, my relationship to my own talents, to my status, to my sense of cool, my sense of self and what is possible in God’ grace. In this time of prayer and processing, what I have seen is a life full of God’ power, love, and glory, and quite literally, if any of this stuff keeps me from receiving what God has to give, it is shit! And so, for the remainder of Advent, the first thing I am getting rid of is television. For many who may be reading, this may seem small, but for me it is Goliath. Even though compared to many Americans, I am quite moderate in the amount of T.V. I watch, I have come to see the inordinate relationship that I have to it, and how it is robbing me of time to read, pray, build relationships, and build my talents.

As I continue to pray and process, it may well be that when Advent is over I will continue to fast from television, moreover, I don’t think I am done regarding what I will give up, or what I am going to take up. When Jesus calls, he offers a yoke. Sure, it is light, but it nonetheless is a yoke that we must bear. Responding to Jesus’ call requires a severing. When his sword penetrates our hearts it creates a beautiful pain, a pain that excises the cancer of our souls, but that brings tremendous healing and freedom. It is this possibility that I am seeing for myself during this Advent season. By faith I am open to receiving it, and by that same faith I will do whatever God asks, so that I can truly receive. I am really starting to see that the good God who gave us his Son, continues to be good in whatever he asks of us. Consequently, I don’t have to fear whatever he may ask of me. In the end, his intention and desire is to fill me (and all of us) with his own love and glory.

5 Responses to “Giving and Receiving”

  1. Rachel  

    You are really are giving up things! Multiple! I’ll just start with my shoes..

    but tv. yeah. I went a few years without it…. i was so productive during that time. I did all the studies in the bible i intend to do now, spent time with God a lot more, read more, it was great. tv can be more of an addiction then i think we often see. Hats off to you though in this new commitment.. i hope it goes well and i wonder do movies in the theatre count? I used to have that debate with myself.. do movies and other people’s tv’s count. Its kind of pain to go to someone’s house and try to avoid the tv set EVERYONE is watching a White CHristmas on. but i digress, good post.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Hold on Obi-Wan, did you say “a few years”? Wow!!  That is more than just a fast, that is a lifestyle. How much TV did you let back into your life? Do you have a different relationship to it now that you have abstained from it for such a long time?

    As for me, I see TV as the first symbolic step toward something greater, but I am not sure what that is at the moment. My growing conviction is that we can truly live like Jesus in love and holiness, have his very relationship to the Father, be like any of the Saints that we lionize and admire. All of this is freely available to us provided we trust God and let go of those specific things that God directs us to that keeps us from deeply receiving and embracing him.

  3. ROG  

    Interesting. Certainly I’ve watched less TV in the past three years), and taking on new shows is harder (though, conversely, took on 5 this year, and still watch 3). Still, most of what I watch (news programs, Ebert & Roeper, JEOPARDY!) give me joy and/or make me feel like a better-informed citizen. So, I probably won’t forego it, but I do understand the urge.

    BTW, does this include DVDs or videos you happen to watch on the TV set?

  4. Anthony Velez  

    Good question! Paula and I have decided that we can watch occasional movies doing pay-per-view, or a DVD, and by this, I do mean occasional. So far we have watched 1/2 of a movie that we will finish later. If we are not watchful about this allowance, then all we will be doing is substituting one crutch for another. This allowance has something to do with intentionality, and with the fact that on some level it is a different media than broadcast television. Often I will turn on the TV at 8pm to watch a show that I like, and then keep watching till 11pm, because I am plugged in, and because networks are really good at putting out enticers, even before the theme song plays, that gets you hooked. A movie via pay-per-view or DVD is a more autonomous medium that unhinges some of the more negative elements of broadcast TV. These negative elements are not something that necessarily exists in the media itself, all though to some degree I think it does, but that exist also within myself, and how I relate to the media. Regarding me personally, DVDs, etc don’t tap into this.

    My post is not meant to be a banner call for all people to join me, or meant to judge others who watch TV. It was more of a confession of my inordinate relationship to the TV. More importantly, it was about being willing to take steps to free up space in my life and heart to more deeply receive from God. Having said this, however, I bet there are a lot of people out there who could use a TV fast.

  5. ROG  


    Here’s a way to watch TV without doing the 8-11 vegetative state – record EVERYTHING you want to watch. I haven’t experienced that effect – and I used to, big time – ever since we’ve had the DVR. I can’t watch that Law & Order marathoon because I need to watch Monday’s JEOPARDY! or last night’s news.
    Interestingly, the VCR wasn’t as good at controlling my consumption because I could just buy tapes and record more and more, while the DVR has a limit; a good thing, I think.