On my weekend away with my husband I read the book by Ann Voskamp called "one thousand gifts," a dare to live fully right where you are. On the inside cover sleeve she writes "How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?" On the back of the cover sleeve is written "One Thousand Gifts beckons you to leave the parched ground of pride, fear, and white knuckle control and abandon yourself to the God who overflows your cup. As Ann Voskamp invites you into her own moments of grace, she gently teaches you how to biblically lament loss, turning pain into poetry; intentionally embrace a lifestyle of gratitude; and slow down and catch God in the moment.
I enjoyed reading her book, it challenged me to live in the moment more, to see more, to notice the little things…to step into that place of living a life of gratitude no matter what my circumstances…for God is a good God worthy of all my praise, all my thanks. Me a sinner deserving of nothing…yet given so very much…how can I not be thankful.
I heard a preacher once say that if all we were ever given was that gift of GRACE…that would be enough for us to be forever thankful. And so I wonder do we really understand GRACE, do we know the depth of the pit that that GRACE pulled us from…I know I don't. Oh I know I have been saved and Jesus is my Lord but this world I live in constantly begs for my attention, this self constantly strives to be lord of me.
So if we truly know that depth of His loving GRACE would we walk our days differently? would we see people differently? would we treat others differently? This once and for all GRACE is a radical thing…it turned the world upside down.
And so as I walk my days, day upon day, hour upon hour is the evidence of that GRACE found. Does my husband see it…do my kids see it…my friends…the strangers I pass by or interact with. Is the GRACE I've been given so evident in my life that it makes a difference in the lives of others?
Do I live my days here in the present or in the past wishing for things I didn't have, going back to places of hurt…living there…dwelling in the pain rather than in the GRACE. Do I allow the past to steal from the now and dull the GRACE I've been given. That GRACE that covers a multitude of sins…my sins…the sins of those who've hurt me. Do I really know the price He paid and if I do, then there must be evidence of that as I live out my days interacting in this broken and sin filled world. When I enter those places of darkness within my soul is that GRACE light strong enough to see me through or do I toss it aside in order to live in the dark places I know so well?
He came to set us free of those dark places, those pain filled places and the choice is ours…we can continue to live in them and miss what we have in the here and now or we can choose to call it for what it is…a broken life…a sin filled life…painful times…times where we were not seen…the past. It has been done, it is what it is, yet we still have life here and now in the present and if we are His, He lives within us and we have all we need to conquer the past and it's ghosts. But it's always a choice…a choice to step into places where once we were hurt…a choice to give our heart when once it was trampled…a choice to speak when once we were shut down…a choice to surrender to the greatest caretaker of your heart…JESUS.
A choice to live each day seeing what has been given to us beyond that gift of GRACE and I think most of us in the western world if we were to really look we are abundantly blessed. It's just a choice and mindset as to whether or not you want to see what is right before you and even though our lives aren't all pretty and our days aren't all bright…regardless of that even in that there are blessings and many of them…look for them…accept them and be grateful…focus on what you do have not what you don't have.
I watched a program on TV a number of years ago, a woman was being interviewed, she was from Rwanda and had lived through the genocide. I listened and watched this woman as she spoke, she had witnessed fourteen members of her family being slaughtered, she had been raped numerous times and yet her face held a smile, despite her horrific past she was grateful, there was life within. All I could think was that this young woman knew GRACE. The same GRACE that Jesus extended to those as He hung upon that tree, to the very ones who nailed Him there…"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." I have never forgotten this story and have so often thought if that woman could live through such horrific pain and still smile, still be grateful and live then so could I.
It's a choice…choosing to live a life of gratitude despite your circumstances...despite your past...and it's your choice no one can make it for you...