I’m still thinking about Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. (I’ve long gotten over my malingering inclination to be snarky about it since it’s so popular. Actually I think that the first three pages are enough to knock the snark out of anyone, and I mean that in a very complimentary way.)
If I were living the more birth- and otherwise- controlled life I’d anticipated back when I made my blissfully ignorant hike down that long, long aisle, I’m not sure what this book would have meant to me. The painfully lovely writing would have moved me, to be sure, but in perhaps a less personal way. I’m sure that I would have spent a few weeks, maybe even months, being a more grateful person, remembering to look for the silver linings in the thunderclouds, and all that.
But. Here I am. Instead of stretching out to soar (that was the plan, you know: stay home till the 2-3 kids start school, then work my way back into the real world), I’m hunkering down to home.
If I weren’t here, I would still be seeking to give thanks in every circumstance. I would probably be succeeding in that to a superficially greater degree than I am now. I might look more put together (I might have an actual wardrobe!). I might have fewer dark nights of the soul (I might get to sleep through the night!).
And--I might fail to realize the extent to which in Him I live and move and have my being. I might think it poetic rather than practical that in Him all things hold together.
It’s obvious, but I’m molasses-slow: In the depth of the darkness, I remember to cry out for the Light. When my spiritual fruits wither and sour, I remember to abide in the Vine. Stretched beyond what I am capable of giving, I remember, This is my body, given for you.
I am thick-skulled and hard-hearted. A carefully contoured life would not suffice to save me from myself. God graciously brings me to the very brink where I can feel for myself what is always true: that the Father’s hand alone restrains and sustains me as I teeter childishly over the gaping abyss.
The conscious thanks-giving that I’m attempting to live unwraps a beautiful surprise: the grace in every vexing moment, if only I have eyes to see. God, grant me eyes to see! And He does: the hilariously literal earnestness of three-year-olds; baby-silk hair curling damp in the humidity; the ice-cream sparkle in a kindergartner’s blue eyes; the freckledness of a boyish nose…
The list is endless and deep-joyful, sometimes lighthearted, but never trite. This wild earthly adventure, overflowing with more life than I can begin to control, is God’s crucible-classroom for my dross-ridden soul. Some lessons burn especially bright: I can take God at His Word—even when the life in question is that of the impossibly tiny baby I never got to hold. Yes. I can take Him at His Word!
Every morning, daily manna, He sends this truth, His mercies, anew. (Lord, grant me to receive with gratefulness not grumbling the manna that sustains me!)