In my wonderfully full and busy life, I usually don't spend much time reading. I love to read good books, but I have a hard time fitting it in (someday the time will come :-). Last month on one of our cross show trips, I was given an incredible book by my friend, Nell. She couldn't say enough good things about it. She really thought I would love it and she wanted me to read it. So, on our 16 hour trip to Atlanta I was finally able to finish it... and start it again, this time reading more slowly and deliberately underlining all the meaningful parts. Sometimes it feels like I don't know what part not to underline! This book ranks as one of the 3 best books I have ever read. "The Bible" being number one and "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom being the other great book. I can read these books over and over and still learn something new and insightful each time. The title of the book Nell gave me is called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.
I love this book so much because it's a testimony to the transformative power of God in a life that chooses to yield to Him. Ann has found the key to obtaining the holy grail of joy that every Christian longs for, including me. Another reason I'm drawn to this book is because Ann is so open and real with her struggles and feelings towards God as well as being honest with her own sins and shortcomings. I love the fact that she is so humble and grateful and full of grace. She has discovered that having a life full of joy is not only attainable, but is possible to have anytime, anywhere.
I want that.
I want unending joy. I want my life to reflect his glory. I want to show my love to Him by noticing all the beautiful gifts He gives me each and every day. I want to give Him thanks over and over again...to never stop thanking and being grateful. This is the way to adore God, to truly commune with Him. In the book she talks about how a tragedy caused her to clinch her fists tight and how she is learning to open her hands to receive whatever God gives. I want my hands to be a symbol of my heart, too. I want my hands to stay open wide, continually receiving His gifts. Open hands can't hold on to gifts, but they can allow others to come and freely take these gifts from my hands and enjoy them, too. Lord, help me not to clinch my fists tight, not to harden my heart, but to accept with gratitude what comes my way, even the hard things. Give me a heart of thankfulness even when I can't see how it could possibly be good. May I always trust you. May I always know that you are always good because a good God can only give good gifts.
Creg was teaching in Matthew 6 last week at the prison and he said this verse has taken on new meaning since I have been telling him about this book.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
If the vision of your soul is clouded by the black spots of resentment, anger & pessimism, then your whole body will be full of rage, revenge, & bitterness. That's dark, and you'll probably be in need of medication. However, if the light of thankfulness & gratitude is what you allow to come in, then your whole countenance will change & it will be obvious to everybody.
We pray for hands open to receive and give, and a vision full of light.