This spring I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. See the blessing. Thank God for the hard things. Thank God when I don't feel thankful. Ingratitude is a sin. These are a few insights I have gleaned from the book that are simply life-changing. A passage I reread today follows:
Is this what the life experts know?
That in Christ, urgent means slow.
That in Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverance.
For a moment, longer, I hold son - and life - and I hold it mindfully . . . attentively . . . thankfully. Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential - a bubble held in awe. (pg 74)
Ann Voskamp's words have challenged and encouraged our family the last couple years at A Holy Experience. The words of her book are beautiful as well. A call for grace - everywhere to see grace and share grace.
These words that she shared while thinking back on a moment of family tension struck me:
I pull out a chair from the table, sink down. The sunflower heads have turned low. The Tall-Son is chewing his toast too loud at the other end of the table. What compels me to name these moments upheavals and annoyances instead of grace and gift? Why deprive myself of joy's oxygen? The swiftness and starkness of the answer startle. Because you believe in the power of the pit.
Really? I lay my head on the table. Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan's way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus' way? Why else get angry? Isn't it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want? When I choose - and it is a choice - to crush joy with bitterness, am I not purposefully choosing to take the way of the Prince of Darkness? Choosing the angry way of Lucifer because I think it is more effective - more expedient - than giving thanks?
Blasphemer. . .
If there are wolves in the woods - expect to see wolves; and if there is God in this place - expect to see God.
Can I be so audacious? To expect to see God in these faces when I am the blashpemer who complains, who doesn't acknowledge this moment for Who it is? (pg 125-126)
One thought I've chewed on much from Voskamp is that one cannot feel two opposing emotions at the same time. If I'm feeling pissy and annoyed, let me tell you from recent personal experience, the idea of thanking God comes pretty hard. It's a bit of a slap in the face. A needed reality slap in my moments of frustration. Abraham is such a help for me in this. Lately he's taken to playing the "I'm Thankful Game," from My ABC Bible Verses. Slowly I'll feel my anger dissolve as we play. Truly, a holy solution.
Jonathan and I are always curious for good book recommendations. So, tis hard for us to not share when we've read one! :) I'll leave you with one last thought from the book to ponder . . . enjoy!
Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism. . . To lack faith perhaps isn't as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God. (pg 148)