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Cheryl Knowles,
B.S. in Child and Family Studies, has been involved with family ministry for the past 30 years with her husband, Merlin (president of the Montana Conference). In the past, she enjoyed many outdoor sports, but now, due to multiple sclerosis, has embraced a quieter lifestyle.  Cheryl occasionally shares her writings with the Belgrade News, or whenever she is asked to publicly read from her devotional journals, in the hope of encouraging others.

 
Receiving With Grace (pdf)
                                                                      
There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing [BEGIN P.21] to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud. —The Desire of Ages, p. 20.2

Papa Father,
You are so totally awesome! This is just what I needed for this Sabbath morning. You knew!  How appropriate for this morning! What a hug from you! 

I am at the pastor’s wives retreat and having a wonderful time. However, I had to be carried to bed, undressed, pottied and watered by others last night. It got too late and I went into my frozen MS thing and couldn’t speak to ask for help. Yikes! I hate it when that happens! You know what a proud little sucker I am and how I internally writhed and shrank in humiliation. But like I always say to MK; “It’s good for me.” 

I wanted to go HOME! Merlin could have come and gotten me. It was only ½ hr. away. I wanted to go away from the awkwardness. I HATE to be, or feel that I am, a burden. They begged me to stay, said I was no burden and that it was a privilege to help me. Sigh.

During the night the song Give Said the Little Stream kept running thru my head. The thought struck me that there were 2 sides to the little streams giving. It had to receive from another source in order to be able to give. The grass, flowers, trees and all living things on and near its banks received. (And then this morning, I opened DA, where I had left off reading the day before and there was the paragraph that I have pasted above. How cool is that! You KNEW! You knew what I would need this morning. Cartwheels and spins and squeals of delight. Sigh.)

It strikes me that in order for any living thing to be in balance there has to be both a giving and a receiving. Both a receiving with joy and a giving with joy. The human heart is the only thing that is not in this balance. There is something healthy about both giving and receiving and unhealthy about only giving and only receiving. If I only give; I can become proud, feel superior or become so dry that I resent the giving. On the other hand if I only receive: I can become needy, selfish and grasping. Either way, only giving or only receiving is self-centering. Giving is ennobling, receiving is humbling and having both is necessary to an emotionally and spiritually balanced life. That is the principle of heaven.

Sunday morning thoughts.

“It is more blessed to give than receive.” Yea, well, someone has to receive. Reciprocal giving and receiving keeps the ground level and keeps us all on equal footing.

Precious Jesus, You gave; that is the easy part to see. But you also had needs; you received. YOU received from the Father in order to serve, give to humanity. You also received from fellow humans. You made the home of Lazarus and his sisters your haven, the place where you went for refreshment, comfort and support. You surrounded yourself with 12 men who went where ever you did. You needed the support and comfort of your disciples in Gethsemane on the night you were betrayed. You needed there help and asked for it. Not once or twice but 3 times. You were not afraid or too proud to ask for help. {Now there’s a novel thought!}

I want to be like you in this also. I see that my tendency to shrink from receiving is not a good thing, not a healthy thing, not a noble thing, but a self-centered thing.

Change my heart O God
Make it ever new.
Change my heart O God
May I be like YOU.
You are the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me That is what I Pray.
Change my heart O God Make it ever new.
Change my heart O God May I be like YOU.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011
While going to the Union Administration retreat.
I read a portion in Desire of Ages this morning that made me think about this experience and I went back and read it and shared it with Merlin. He made the comment that receiving with grace is also a form of giving. Pretty cool huh!

Words to the little song written by Frances J. Crosby (and published in 1867) that came to mind Friday night at the pastor's wives retreat:

Little Stream
“Give,” said the little stream,
“Give oh give, give oh give.”
“Give,” said the little stream
as it hurried down the hill.
Singing, singing all the way,
“Give oh give, give oh give;”
Singing, singing all the way,
“Give oh give away.”

“I’m small I know but wherever I go, the grass is greener still.”
“I’m small I know but wherever I go, the grass is greener still.”


 
                              
 Questions for Discussion or Private Reflection
  1. Put yourself in the place of the writer, and share how you might respond to such a challenging situation as she encountered at the ministerial spouse retreat.
     
  2. Why do you think the writer was able to find such courage and mental strength?
     
  3. Are there are any ministerial spouses in your conference who you admire for  their courage and spiritual depth while facing ongoing challenges? If so, brainstorm ways to bless their lives.
     
  4. Think of ways that you could give by receiving from others.