Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rear view mirror

I just finished a really interesting new book by Ann Voskamp. "One Thousand Gifts" is such a rich story of true thankfulness, grace and worshiping God for everything, in our lives. And I mean everything!
God spoke to me in so many parts in this book. Its not an easy read, in fact its quite deep. But the beauty of this book is in the simplicity of its message. Thankfulness. Which she refers to as the original word "Eucharisteo" This is not the thankfulness we think of as in "God is great, God is Good, let us thank him for our food" or a time in November that we get together as a family. Its a deep form of thankfulness that transforms into grace and ultimate worship. We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. How can we accept a free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving and gratefulness? It is inherent to a true salvation experience and to live a whole, fullest life. Like so many of us, the author is faced with many trials that left her wondering "Where is God? and what's so good about Him?" She sets out on an endeavor to thank God in every day life. One thousand gifts. "Suds in the sink, Jam piled high on toast, Morning shadows across the old floors, Dirty Laundry" Yes, dirty laundry! as a mother of 6, she found that giving thanks for every moment as a gift, gave her a peaceful, and FULL life. So many times we try and "fill" our lives with things to avoid our hurt. We all do it at some time or another. Maybe material things, hobbies, children, work. Anything to keep us from dealing with our emptiness. She writes, "Expectations kill relationships, especially with God." I can't tell you how many times this has been true in my own life. God calls us to be humble, and when we are humble, we expect nothing because we know we DESERVE nothing. But how great our God that He lavishes so many gifts upon us. Yet we think the opposite, what He hasn't done or what He didn't do for us, OR that He would in any way cause discomfort in our lives. When it is really just the opposite. With relationships in our lives, it's no different. We expect people to do or say certain things and when they don't, we end up disappointed, hurt, and empty. By worshipping God with thankfulness for every moment, even every hair-pulling moment(as moms) and viewing each moment as a gift, no matter what the moment holds, we are able to clearly worship Him for who He is. I know this is way easier said than done. Let's be honest, thanking God for dirty dishes, mounds of laundry and screaming children is not always so easy when its right in front of you daily. There are many days when I feel like all I have accomplished is change diapers, clean up messes, and refill juice cups. She writes, "When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate the cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, LIFE grows. and emptiness is filled."

Thanks is what builds trust

Count blessings and discover who can be counted on. Can God be counted on? Even in the storms and disappointments in life? remember and give thanks? What if remembering doesn't kindle gratitude, but 3rd degree burns? One of my favorite things she writes is "God reveals himself in rear view mirrors." She shares Exodus 33:22-23, "When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back." It's in the dark that God is passing by. When we feel abandoned, He is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it's dark, and we are free falling, Christ is most present. Then He will remove His hand, Then we will look and see His back. God reveals Himself in rear view mirrors. And as she writes, "Sometimes we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God's back in our rear view mirror. Maybe sometimes as far as heaven. Then we will turn and see His face, and everything will be clear!"
Oh my goodness, those words came alive to me as I know too well the doubt of can He be trusted? He can be trusted and I know this first hand. Looking back in my "rear view" mirror, I can definitely see His back! In some areas of my life, it took years to see it. Other times His presence was undeniably clear in an instant. I see it most recently with the death of our son. I see His back in every aspect of our lives with Mills. It becomes clearer with each month that passes. Knowing He held us, doesn't take the pain away, but it sure does soften the blow! Amidst our hurt, pain, anger and fear, He was there, tucking us in the cleft in the rock! Do I know why Mills isn't running in the backyard playing with my other children? No more today than I did the day he died. I will have to drive to heaven for that,and when I do, I will look in my mirror, and no longer see God's back in where He's been in my life. I will turn and see His Face! But until that day, all I can do is TRUST that His ways are not my ways.

What does your "rear view" mirror of life look like? Can you see His back tucking you into the clefts? Or is your vision still blurred by bitterness and anger over what He should have done? Sometimes we have to drive years before we see it, if we acknowledge it at all. But, He was there and He is more than safe to trust!
I am thankful for this beautiful writer and how God used this story to remind me of His ever presence in our daily lives. How I am reminded of giving thanks for every moment of our lives, because they are truly a gift. The ultimate gift of grace, which none of us deserves.

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