one thousand gifts – a book review chapter 5

what in the world, in all this world, is grace?

How to lay the hand open for this moment’s bread – when it will hurt.

I dare to express this, but that’s what all of this is right – a dare; I have not yet had to accept with thanks “the hurt”.  (Atleast not since I began the counting.)  I know I will though; so, in the mean time I will “find strength in numbers” as I continue this practice of numbering gifts.  I pray that when the hard eucharisteo arrives, it will find me, still, with pen in hand.

Live fully!…Joy is always worth the wait, and fully living worth the believing.

…the discipline to count to one thousand gave way to the freedom of wonder and I can’t imagine not staying awake to God in the moment, the joy in the now.

Joy.  2010 was the year for that Sweet Lady.  Sometimes I sought with all my heart and other times I caught an unexpected glance, but God faithfully gave me that heart’s desire…along with a few other of His surprise gifts.  Now, to “stay awake to God in the moment” – there is the excitement on the days when my eyes are tuned to His presence and the rub when my eyes see only the “visible” – I miss so much when I focus in only 20/20.  I will keep returning to Him, to “come and see”, to “turn my eyes upon Jesus”, because “I want to know Him more”!

But awakening to joy awaken to pain.  Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.

How often have I thought I was having joy snatched from me as pain was placed before me.  I thought they were enemies.  How surprised I have been to find that they are the greatest friends.  They both have the same purpose: to draw me closer to Him, to open my eyes that I may see, to give me “roses” in life (you know the beautiful flower – joy – with the thorns – pain)

Every step I take forward in my life is a loss of something in my life and I live the waiting: How and of what will I be emptied today?

To be emptied…poured out…be it for the blessing, help, compassion of others or for God alone…it is not the “easy”, but am I willing?  Am I willing to have “it” taken away so that He may pour once more?  Some days I shout “yes”, other days the whisper can only be heard by Him, but I purpose to accept and bend and yield.

To read His message in moments, I’ll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world…How does the Word read the world?

How to accept, bend, and  yield?  How to see Him in the moments that seem dark when He is supposed to be Light?  How else but to take the Light out from under the “bowl” and shine it!  He is the Word, I can read Him, I can know how He reads the world.  Could it be that simple?  Could it really require that much “less” of me?  Am I okay with that…to let Him “fight” for me?  To take up my place does not mean to step into His.

To know His Word – to know Him – is my utmost.  Having Him write Colossians on my heart has been the circumcising, healing, and reshaping of me.  That is what the Word does; He transforms!

That is what a shadow is, an empty space, a hole in the light.  Evil is that – a hole in the goodness of God…All God makes is good.  Can it be that , that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God?

“…because greater is He that is in me than he in the world!”  “He causes all things to work to good for those who love Him…”

Perspective – how we see.

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:17

The liar defiantly scrawls his graffiti across God’s glory, and I heave to enjoy God…and Satan strangles, and I whiten knuckles to grasp real Truth and fix that beast to the floor. It’s just that the eyes are bad – my perspective.  “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body”…If Satan can keep my eyes from the Word, my eyesight is too poor to read light – to fill with light.  Bad eyes fill with darkness so heavy the soul aches because empty is never truly empty; empty is only a full, deepening darkness…Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps.

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.  Matthew 4:1-11

I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God  Acts 26:17-18

Who deserves any grace?…Here dies another day, During which I have had eyes, ears, hands, And the great world round me; And with tomorrow begins another. Why am I allowed two? (G. K. Chesterton)…When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?  For He might not have.

Some question why a good God could allow such bad.  Our minister frequently has said the real question is why does He allow any good to happen to any of us?  We are so quick to be the children who cry out “unfair!”, and He is our Father, Who is so slow – patient as He holds steady and takes us through it.  We are His, and He never wanted it to be this way!  I have cried over an acquaintance who is living with two sick children while she battles cancer.  I have sat and listened as a friend wonders why people who have given up everything to follow God where they thought He wanted them, only to watch the husband/dad die within three weeks.  I have let a friend vent and cry in anger and hurt as she shared the stories of eating disorders and abuse and physical, spiritual, and emotional trials – “Why did He let this happen!?”

I don’t know.  He does.  He sees more than my eyes, spiritually opened or not, can.  And as out of control it all is, (and as cliche’ as this seems), He does have it all in His hand – He’s totally in control!  It’s just, we have lost it…the world spins loose of His ideals, of His Truth, of His love.  We have pulled away and He has given all to pursue us and we have turned our backs and He continues to go on with His plan, making opportunities at every bend (joy, pain…) for us to turn around and see Him.  His is love. He is good.  We are flesh.  We are not good.  He is relentless.  We are stubborn.  He is kindness.  We have hurt and been hurt.  He is here.  We run, flail, fight.  He is here.  He is still good.  Will you accept Who He is?  He accepts us…by way of the blood of His Son.  Will you take the good and the bad and know that you don’t have to do anything with it but entrust it to Him.  Will you turn your palms up, spread open your fingers, and live hands-wide-open.  Ready to receive, ready to surrender, ready to bless?  “Because He might not have”…but He did!   He does!

Should I accept good from you and not trouble?  (Job 2:10)

…there is only one way to live fully and it is “by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

So, we read, we memorize, we quote, we write it down, we sing it, and we live by it!  To truly live The Word…how amazing would that be!?  To actually “be still and know that He is God!”  To be “courageous” and think of His “higher ways” and live the “greater love”.  To “not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING give THANKS!”  To “love my enemy” and know who my neighbor is.  To serve because he came serving.  To “seek and save those who are lost” because He came with a mission – “to do the will of (His) Father”.


All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness.  That fullest life itself dawns from nothing but Calvary darkness and tomb – cave black into the radiance of Easter morning…It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace…God wastes nothing – “makes everything work out according to His plan” (Ephesians 1:11)

God wastes nothing…nothing!  Those memories of ugliness, fear, shame.  Those years of hardness, bitterness, and hurt.  Those moments, that I haven’t always seen but do now, of sweetness and safety and legacy.  Those times of sin…and of victory…of sorrow…of rejoicing.  He – and only He – is able to take it all in order to make me all He wants me to be. 

You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really?…If you haven’t lost Christ, child, nothing is ever lost.

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me

Psalm 23:4a