In my last post, I shared the difficulty we have as men in being able to receive love and in particular the love that God has for us. Remember, first and foremost, God loves us. Men are wired in their DNA to be initiators, while women are generally more inclined to be responders. The natural inclination of an initiator is to do something, while a responder is more inclined to be open to receive. So to tell a man to just sit there and receive, without doing a thing is difficult. I can not say it strongly enough, men, “you need to sit there and receive.” God loves us. It is first and foremost sheer gift and grace. It is out of the realization of this sheer grace, that we go forth and do the works of God. But first we have to sit and take in the love of God.
So how does a man do this? It is quite simple. I suppose the simplicity of the practice of receiving God’s love is one of the greatest obstacles for us men. Part of the struggle comes in our learning to comprehend, what Leanne Payne calls “the unseen real.” The unseen real is greater than physical reality. The transcendent God who is totally other, desires for us to know and experience his love. Men, God wants to be known in love. A key phrase from the historic spiritual tradition, that for years, I had a hard time grasping, was that “knowledge comes through love.” I am now beginning to understand that learning to receive love goes far beyond anything that I can comprehend about God. In this knowing He is speaking to my soul, beyond my understanding. I am learning to simply sit there and receive.
A key verse in learning to receive the love of God is found in Psalms 27:8, “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will see.” This is a seeing with the “eyes of our heart.” I often recommend that a man simply sit in a chair for five minutes, imagining Jesus looking at him in love. It can be helpful to literally turn your face “up and out” to Jesus. Remember Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:7). The spiritual insight of ” not seeing with but through the eyes” is important in this practice. In “seeing with the eyes” we project our misconceptions on reality, where as “seeing through the eyes”, allows reality to enter the soul. “Fantasy comes from seeing with the eye, from reflecting in your eye what is outside. Reality can only be seen by looking through the eye. With Christ we look through rather than with” (Malcolm Muggeridge). In just sitting there we are learning to allow the reality of God’s love to penetrate our hearts. We are learning to love the great realites outside ourselves. We are learning to “set love in order” in our lives, by allowing God to love us. Then in return we learn to love God with all our hearts.