This is not a post about presents, but it is about being present. Today’s Commonplace Book quotes come from one of my very favorite contemporary books. Indeed, it spoke right into my heart at a time that i desperately needed the message.
My absolute favorite modern non-Orthodox book is One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. You have probably read the book yourself. If you have not i cannot recommend it higher.
For this recovering perfectionist, she told me precisely what i needed to know. The heartfelt truth is that she told me what i already suspected, and was not ready to put into practice until i read the book.
“All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here and me.”
Without recognizing what i was doing, i was living the life God gave me inside-out.
God gives us everything we need. He blesses us beyond our ability to measure or comprehend, yet for too many of us, it becomes a life of scarcity.
We fear and fear gives birth to a lack of gratitude.
Humanity’s discontent is the genesis of the fall in Genesis. Voskamp quotes Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of the Word, C.S. Lewis, Julian of Norwich, and other great thinkers of the ages to guide the reader to a recognition that everything that happens is a gift from God.
After listing thousands of gifts myself, i can attest to the difference that an intentional attitude of gratitude can make.
Watching an art show reminded me today, that shadow creates form. My problem is that i am leaving the light out of my thinking some days.
God allows only enough dark for us to see the form. i forget to notice the light. The sun is always shining.
To quote another of my very favorite bloggers, Father Steven Freeman,
My word for 2015 began to impress itself upon my heart one evening in December as a lay recovering from passing out. I had spent just a little too long on my feet as I hurried to catch up with my exponentially accelerating To Do list. I planned to take a few days off during Christmas week and, as I believe is common with most women, the work, shopping, baking, decorating, and wrapping all mounted while the time decreased.
For me there is nothing more frustrating than being forced to lie flat on my back accomplishing nothing. A whole evening was lost while the blood flowed back into my brain in sufficient quantity. I ended up spending most of my time in prayer as a means of keeping myself calm. I have often realized that God will knock you flat on your back if that is what He needs to get your attention. I speak from experience.
My desire for my prayer life was that it be full and rich. Honesty compels me to admit that I found myself complaining most of that time. I was focused on communication with God, however, and I did eventually get to the end of my tirade to the Almighty. One evening doesn’t seem like that much time to loose out of a life but for me it has inevitably felt like an eternity.
I realize, as I share this, that the depth of my prayer life has been inhibited by treating my active life like something that is so packed with commitments that one break will cause the whole thing to fall apart. The obstacle that I have not figured out how to overcome is that your cannot schedule illness. It never comes according to plan. I would plan it out of existence if I had any control.
In the calm induced by a couple of hours of uninterrupted prayer I began to find the notion impressed upon my heart that although my agenda looked unfinished my day was complete in Christ. I kept being reminded that I am complete and lacking in nothing because of what Christ has done on my behalf.
I never complete my To Do: list. For years I felt that I was a failure for this. Then I began to understand that if I only put on the list what I could accomplish in one day I would lack imagination. What I can dream will always exceed my ability, but that gives me something to look forward to for the future. My sufficiency comes from Jesus not my achievements.
“…and you are COMPLETE in Him, who is the head of all principalities and power.” Colossians 2:10 NIV.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
As I ponder hope, I am left with the recognition that it is only genuinely possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. To me hope ought to be included in the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) because it is so elusive for human beings. We beg for hope, search high and low and hang on to it with a tenacity that often puts terriers to shame. All the same human hopes often collapse because they are hung on the unsupportable branches of selfish desire. Hollow hope is what we typically hang our hat’s on. Real hope, as St. Paul said, “does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:5)
I want to rest in real hope in the coming year. I want my life built on a bedrock that does not fall through when I rest my whole weight upon it. My life needs to be built on the rock of Jesus Christ.
As I begin a new chapter in my life, the year 2013, I look to the one who loves me, fashioned and made me to give me my hope. What I expect to get out of the next year is a deeper, richer faith. I want to have an even closer walk with The Lord through this period of my pilgrimage.
Journey’s are exciting and scary. You know that you must move forward in order to go on a journey. Staying in the same place is not an option for growth. You must accept some experience with the unknown to travel. My life has hither-to been very staid. I have said aloud all to often, “I don’t take risks.” Perhaps that has been part of the challenge? It is hard to go on pilgrimage without taking some chances along the way.
2013 is my year of adventure. I don’t plan on going anywhere physically, but I do plan on stretching myself spiritually and creatively and this blog seems a good place to start. Therefore, I will go. As I type today I am repeatedly challenging the spell-check because when I try to type “to” it comes out “go.” I will take the hint and go. I will go with hope. I hope that God will use my writing and all of my life to make His loving kingdom more evident in the world. I go so that God can use me. That seems like an agenda for the new year built on real hope. Amen.