Saturday, July 19, 2014

One Thousand Gifts

Words have always had the powerful ability to captivate my heart. I search for the perfect sentence to express some feeling or experience, one which I have never found the perfect explanation. A phrase that will say it all. This searching has led me to books, and songs, and famous quotes that will serve to bring the depth of my heart out into the open.

Right now, I am reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. This book's author shares her journey of giving thanks to God by numbering the gifts he has given her. She challenged herself to list one thousand gifts and thank God for them.

I've been learning from this book the difference that gratitude and perspective can have in our daily lives. Each day we can choose to the way we are going to perceive the world. We can choose to see the good, the difficult, painful, and confusing parts of our lives as gifts from God. Or we can decide that we are going to let angry take control, allow ourselves to complain and whine, and become ungrateful for every day we are alive.

"You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies--though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for what it is." (Voskamp, p.125)

Our perspective is narrow and limited. And often we look past blessings right in front of us.

People become nuisances that we would rather look through instead of look at. We avoid eye contact, personal connection, and community because we have been burned by people in the past. We don't let people in because we have become hardened in an attempt to protect ourselves.

But all these defensive maneuvers have done is hurt us more. Healing is restricted and sight is blinded. So how do we begin the process of changing our perspective? How do we begin to change our ungrateful and anger-ridden hearts? If we desire to be people that are thankful and at peace with God, others, and ourselves, where to do we begin?

One Thousand Gifts suggests that we first need to begin to see the gifts that God gives us. And I believe that there is something powerful in allowing Jesus to reveal his goodness to us through the mundane blessings, the painful and confusing moments, and through the joy that comes through experiencing him through his creation. By worship God for the gifts he has given, our hearts soften and we begin to understand how much he loves us.

I am not finished with this book but I am thankful that it has made me ponder what it means to live in the present moment, fully invested and seeking him. In the past two weeks God has been bringing me back to the same verse. I know that He is trying to answer my heart-deep question: "What is your will for my life God?" And he responded with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."