Thursday, February 9, 2012

Think it Through Thursday

I just started reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. If you haven't read it, put it on your list and have a box of tissues ready at your side. It's a book you should read slowly, to be digested slowly. She deals with big, hard questions in this book and talks about real, hard life issues. It's convicting and inspiring in so many ways, God speaks through scripture on every page  In the book, the author is struggling, (at least in the first 5 chapters) to grasp and fully know the joy that God promises in a world that is full of pain and loss. Ann's premise is that ingratitude is what keeps us from seeing and knowing God's grace, at the challenge of a friend she begins to list one thousand gifts. Many are simple, everyday things. Noticing beauty in the common, in the details. She looks at this list as a way to learn gratitude, to be thankful and to see God's grace in the big things, one has to be thankful for (and notice) the small. Here is a section of the book that I found particularly convicting.

"It is true, I never stop wanting to learn the hard eucharisteo (thanksgiving) for the deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice. [...] Gratitude for the seemingly insignifican--a seed--this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life--even the hard--is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.

I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: " And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). And I, too, would nod and say straight-faced, "I'm thankful for everything." But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on "thanks in all things" and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time." (p. 57)

I am so guilty of that "slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving," especially in my prayers. "Lord, thank you for your many blessings." Does not acknowledging each blessing keep me from fully seeing the incredible gift? I think this acknowledging would definitely focus my mind and heart on what I have been given, on the grace, rather than on what I don't have. Contentment starts here. I'm tempted to start a list of my own, train my eyes and mind and heart to see the grace in everyday things. 

1 comment:

  1. I try to write down 10 things I'm thankful for a few times a week in my journal, even little things but just try to really think about what I'm thankful for that's happened that week. It really helps!