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Becoming Alive: Reflections from One Thousand Gifts

 

 

I met Ann’s story a few years ago unable (or unwilling) to finish, for her words are poetry, singing off the pages and at the time I could not keep rhythm.

When creating my booklist for the year I decided to give her story another chance and I am so glad I did. Her words were sweet to my soul, they were encouraging and building up and helped me answer the question I have been gnawing at for some time; Is God good to me?

I can say without a shadow of a doubt the Lord has used Ann’s story and her words to help shape and mold my cold heart. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear these words until I had finished. I was dead coming alive. I feel once again I know what it is to live alongside God, to experience His love and adore His presence.

The sin of ingratitude, the original sin in the garden, has darkened all of our hearts. It has left us wanting, unable to see “the material world for what it was meant to be: as the means to communion with God.” (One Thousand Gifts // Voskamp). Instead we all search for our gods among the created, forgetting, indifferent, even bitter towards the Creator.

It was in this place that Ann started, longing for more from the world, to sit in communion with God not just on Sunday but everyday, an every breath kind of more. There in her searching for the meaning, the more of life, she turned to Jesus;

“The God-Man with his own termination date. Jesus, the God-Man who came to save me from prisons and fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important? ‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…’ (Luke 22:19 NIV).” (One Thousand Gifts // Voskamp).

He gives thanks.

This profound truth, this meaning of life, to give thanks, to see it all as a gift. As Ann learns the deeper meaning of eucharisteo, “giving thanks,” you can’t help but see life through her eyes. To give thanks for the small everyday. To give thanks for the hard and unwanted. To give thanks for the big and profound.

As she started naming the gifts in her life, I too found myself seeing life as a gift. I began to understand as I began to see. Thanksgiving isn’t a small act but the very act Christianity. In naming the gifts I found my heart growing softer. I found abundance placed before me where before I only saw lack. I found my faith growing as my gift naming grew. I found ground on which to stand and trust His goodness even through my desert season.

I started small as she did, being thankful for sunshine and pizza but soon my eyes were opened even more to be thankful for B’s patience which I hadn’t seen before, for disagreements that led to forgiveness, pain that showed me beauty and even ants wandering about my feet, proof that nothing is too small.

Just as Jesus gave thanks for his broken body and shed blood, trusting in God’s will for His life, I too can give thanks not knowing all the answers, not seeing the outcome or understanding the purpose. I can give thanks and live life with an open hand, freely accepting that which God gives and freely giving that which was given to me because all of life is a gift, a gift of grace. It is in the thanking that my faith becomes alive, an active obedience, a way of seeing Him and being Him to others; blessed to be a blessing.

“My human experience is the sum of what the soul sees and I see precisely what I attend to and what the eyes focus on is what the life is.” (One Thousand Gifts // Voskamp).

So I will keep naming the gifts, counting the blessings, remembering His goodness so that I may keep on walking in faith, out into the unknown, strengthening my hand to humbly accept whatever He gives and graciously give it all away. For I know now that He is good, yes good to me.

 

If you’re interested in the books, here’s the collection:

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I love a good plain t-shirt, pizza, snuggling with my dog and hanging out with my husband. My mission? To speak truth and grace to help encourage other women to know they are never alone.

I'm Sarah Jean.

I’m the girl who came to realize the freedom in not being the author of my story.

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