I read a book about 10 days ago. This is not a big deal ordinarily, since I tend to devour books like the air I breathe. It’s not unheard of for me to finish two novels in one day – depending of course, on the type of day it may be. Anyhow, I digress…This book I read by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts really answered some questions in my mind that I didn’t even know were pinging around inside my head.
She begins the book with a poetic description of her birth in all of its glory and in the next chapter telling the reader about the death of her sister when they were just small children. Her poetic manner of writing sits very well with me and I found myself eating up the pages, despite the fact that she discusses a subject that is often difficult to get through when one is reading, unless perhaps you are a devout Christian. I am talking about religion. This is not your ordinary Christian missive however, but something else altogether. She discusses the fine art of being THANKFUL.
I am not just referring to the quick nod of thanks we give for the roof over our heads and the food in our stomach but also for all those things that bring us pain; the hard lessons of life that can either break us down to depths never before experienced, or lift us up into the highest of highs. The author talks about looking into her mirror and being brutally honest with her self evaluation. Seeing all those things in herself, both outwardly as well as the inner workings of her self that she finds lacking. All the ways she has somehow failed to be the person she thought, at some point, she thought she ought to be. This resonates deep within my own spirit as I have struggled in the last several years to feel successful. I have accomplished all these feats and yet, sometimes it feels like there is something I am not doing, a task I have yet to complete….a hole that is supposed to be filled somehow that remains empty.
It is not as if I have not lived life because I promise you dear reader, I have lived life from giving of my time to charities, completing service in the military, 25 years of mothering 7 children, athletic endeavors of miles upon miles of roads and paths traveled, thousands of books read, travel to foreign countries, mention in various honor societies…….blah, blah…blah. Yet, it all feels like it is devoid of something important. Like there is something or someone I am missing or have missed. All this has been done……and yet I am EMPTY?
The author calls it the legacy of the Garden. She is referring to the Garden of Eden where the very first sin took place and gave us all this craving for more, despite how full our lives may be we desire MORE. Ann Voskamp tells us that our fall from grace occurred because we are not satisfied with the fruit that God provides and instead we hunger for something more….This more is what drives us and has driven our planet to the brink. Look at our population as a whole and listen to anyone over the age of 35 talk about the ‘younger generation’ and how ungrateful they are. It’s like a disease that has gone systemic.
The biting of the apple in the Garden of Eden (whether literally or not) changed the way we see. The devil said to Adam and Eve, ‘In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened…’ (Genesis 3:5 NASB). Our eyes were already opened though and we could see the perfect love of God and a world overflowing with goodness. We were fooled into thinking that there was something MORE and we were missing out on opportunities or other visions we had not yet beheld. They bit the fruit off the tree of life and in that instant they saw everything, except God. We see a world of loss, scarcity and extreme injustice and prejudice.
We become hungry so we eat and feel full…….yet empty. We are still looking at the fruit of the material world expecting it to fill our emptiness rather than looking to God to provide for us as he always has….There is one of the keys for me….God has always provided for me. There is no way I would have made it through everything I have ever lived through if He had not been there. I have often asked and found myself trying to research in order to understand, “Why”. Why did I make it? What kept me going when so many others quit trying? How did I get to this point in life when so many I know got lost in the pain? God was there and is still there through all of it.
My friends know me pretty well and I am not someone who throws around words like Christian and I don’t speak about the Bible or its content all that much, though I do BELIEVE that there is a God and that we all have a purpose for being on this earth. There is a reason why we meet the people we do at the time they enter into our lives. There’s a reason we enter into the life lessons we do – sometimes over and over again. We have to get it right. We have to learn the lesson before we can move onto the next one. Like we have to learn how to crawl before we walk, we have to learn these other lessons in order to be ready for better opportunities or for people to walk into (or out of) our lives.
I was listening to a random segment from Bishop T.D Jakes on YouTube last night with all of this on my mind and what he was preaching about was God waiting on us, where we are at right this minute….so he can propel us forward with His nourishment. He does not just stand by while we suffer with our ‘soul holes’ but tells us that if we believe, have faith in HIM and are THANKFUL for all He has given – He has so much more to give us. We only have to be thankful rather than acting like spoiled children with our hands out saying, “more, more, MORE!”
To be thankful for all we have does not sound like a difficult thing…until our boat is rocked by stormy waters. That, my friends, is when we find out where we truly stand in our faith, with friends and within our own stormy, monkey minds….
I have only skimmed the surface of where my heart is leading these words so I will let this sit and give it to you raw and uncut as always. There is more to follow….If you dare.
Until next time….