Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”  Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Given that we're now just a few days from Thanksgiving, it seemed appropriate to review the book that has been at the forefront of my mind since having read it a few months ago.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

It's currently #9 on the New York Times Bestseller list, which typically means for me that it's not worth my time.  In all honesty, I picked it up because the cover was pretty and it was super cheap when Borders went out of business. I find, generally speaking, that anything that spends time at the top of the bestseller list is watered down, feel-good Christianity at best.

This little treasure of a book was quite different.  Don't misunderstand.  It's not deep.  It does not reveal any new insight.  It doesn't delve into the depths of eschatology or the five points of Calvinism.  It addresses no hot button ethical issue.

It's quite simple really, yet challenging in it's own rite.  The author's beautiful poetic style is most appealing.  She tells the story of her life.  The story of how she overcame fear, overcame agoraphobia, overcame the unpleasantries of her past.
The key to her success, ultimately a relationship with the Lord Jesus and His grace, that grows and develops through thanksgiving, gratitude, eucharisteo, for the gifts He bestows on those He loves.  The story of her transformation is bathed in a celebration of grace.

The book, though a tale about the author's life, is practical for all.  Learning the seemingly simple art of giving thanks can have tremendous impact on our spiritual life.  The act of thanksgiving, as Ann explains, is about looking at all of life.  She says,
“On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and effort to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.”
Again, it's not my normal read, but it was timely.  Following a year of losses, reading these words:
“Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency.” stung a bit, I must admit.  But she's right.  A proverbial elbow to my skeptical side.

Reading the book as I do most, small bits at a time in between wiping noses, dictating english lessons, and changing diapers, I was challenged to look at each and every aspect of my daily life.  I was struck by how much I miss!  Considering myself to be generally thankful, it was brought to my attention how much I overlook.  How many blessings come that are taken for granted!  How many seemingly unpleasant things come for which I am anything but thankful, giving little (or sometimes no) regard for the blessings that may be hidden within.

While not without it's problems, primarily being that there may be, (as a result of the focus of the book?) an overemphasis on our giving thanks, and not enough emphasis on the gift of grace and the one who gives it, One Thousand Gifts, regardless of where you are at in your spiritual journey, is a book most worthy of your time.

For some, it may serve as a lesson in thanksgiving, in gratitude, in eucharisteo.  A lesson in grace and in how to receive the gift of grace.
For others, as for me, it served as a reminder.  A reminder... and a challenge to see more deeply and to express more fully, gratitude, to the giver of all good gifts.  A reminder and a challenge to not only accept but to revel and bask in the gift of grace.

To give thanks for all things to the Father, the all knowing, all powerful, ever present God, is a blessing in and of itself for which to be thankful.

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