Recently I purchased Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book “One Thousand Gifts”. I started reading the morning the box from Amazon arrived. Cup of coffee in hand, excited and eager to discover for myself the blessings within these pages that I had heard so much about.
Wholly unprepared for what I would soon find there.
Two chapters in, I stopped reading. Deeply moved. Convicted. Desperate to slow down and to pray. God has given this woman a story and she has opened herself up to Him in such a way that He has breathed the words to her to tell it. Beautiful, poetic, soulful words that share an imperfect woman’s journey to seek her perfect God and find him in a heart of gratitude.
It has been several weeks and I have not picked the book up again. But I will. I will start again. I will take this journey with Ann; with God. And I will discover, soak in and share one thousand of the gifts in my life. One thousand of the thousands of gifts God has given me; that He gives me everyday. A beginning. A start to recognizing that He is there, in everything. That He loves me. That He sees me. That the evidence of His love can be found in the small things; the gifts that too often go unnoticed.
God, you have given me a story too. I am thankful for EVERY bit of it, in fact that is my first thanks …
1. I am thankful for my story.
Well that felt good – 999 to go; what a journey it will be.
But that is for another time. For today, the leading of my heart centers around a post I saw on Facebook a little over a week ago from Ann Voskamp — I got it because I “Like(d)” her — a simple sentiment that has been rolling around in my head and moving in my heart continuously ever since.
Actually, it is not simple at all. Not for me anyway. Which is most likely why God has had me up a lot this past week, like 3 AM up, bible, spiral notebook and pen in hand, praying and writing all that has been
rattling charging around within me.
All of the questions that have been stirred …
“Love is not passion — it is the pulse of sacrifice.”
How do I love like that?
Me who struggles with patience and forgiveness.
Me who struggles with the fear of failure.
Me who fights like a mule to stay in her comfort zone.
Me who can be too easily wounded and has a hard time letting go.
What if I can’t do it? What if I am never able to do it?
I love deeply. I love my family, my husband, my children, my friends, I love within my circle. But even there, do I love sacrificially? Or do I grumble at the “to do list”, the demands of small children, the challenge of family dynamics, the perceived hurts and slights of friends?
I have a compassionate heart. A heart that aches at suffering and injustice. But my heart has limits. I do not ache or hurt for everyone. I do not see everyone as God sees them. I am passionate but … I do not always love.
The soul-searching questions as God moves me forward, preparing me for the season that is to come …
Do I love self-servingly or self-sacrificingly?
Do I love those who can do nothing for me in return? Those who can’t love me in return?
Do I love the unlovable?
Do I love my enemies?
Do I love when it is hard?
How do I love by the example that has been set for me?
The answer is, I can’t.
Not on my own.
But I can freely submit myself to the God who first loved me. He whose love is perfect. The one who will teach me, direct my steps, redeem my missteps, soften my heart.
The one who will empty me of me that I might be filled with Him. That I might love as He loves.