one thousand gifts – a book review chapter 8

how will He not also?

Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is…disguising my deep fear as stress seems braver somehow…Fear keeps a life small.

Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail tells her chat buddy, played by Tom Hanks, that “I live a small life…meaningful but small…”  I’ve quoted that before as something I thought of my own life, but I wonder if that’s really God’s plan.?  Is my goal to live a life where my schedule works like the clock and I live life daily in sweet bliss with very little disturbing me…or me disturbing anyone else.  Am I supposed to live a life where I surround myself with only a handful of people and ocassionally go to a social event or two?  Honestly, I have this great desire to do just that; yet, I know that’s not of Him.  So what am I afraid of…discomfort, saying embarrassing things, not fitting in (and really not caring), causing a glitch in my schedule, saying things to push others away…or to annoy them…or to show them who I really am only to disappoint.  Maybe my fear is really of people.  I have this false sense of security when I’m all by myself.  I don’t have to please, to try and say the right things, to be a certain way, to smile and be happy and laugh when I really do not want to.  I guess I have this fear of being too real because I know the real me is so full of flaws and I really don’t want people to know them…me.

What if I opened the clenched hands wide to receive all that is?  A life that receives all of God in this moment?

Palms up, hands wide-open.  The way to really live.  I wonder if it’s the “all of God” that seems too much, too intense…too holy.  It’s that kind of position that requires a fully alive person, and have I gotten so accustom to sort of living that anything more seems just that…more.  Why am I afraid of more…of life?  I guess I know it requires a lot, that it disappoints, it hurts…and sometimes those moments seem to outweigh the graces.  So, it is only in the counting of graces that I can trust and believe that the former is the lie. 

Stress isn’t only a joy stealer.  The way we respond to it can be sin…What is saving belief if it isn’t the radical dare to wholly trust?…Are stress and worry evidences of a soul too lazy, too undisciplined, to keep gaze fixed on God?  To stay in love?…Isn’t joy worth the effort of trust?

Effort.  I remember giving many opportunities up as a younger girl because they required effort.  If I wasn’t automatically good at it, it wasn’t for me.  I would skip the trying to avoid the embarrassment and disappointment…the failing.  (You know, that thing they say we learn the most from.)  If I was always good at what I was doing, I felt good about myself…I didn’t have people laughing at me…I could leave feeling accomplished.  This “joy thing” – “love thing”, it is not my skill.  I can’t do it.  I didn’t pick up those gifts and find that they were a perfect fit.  So, could I get the guts – the grit – to fight for this?  To “nevah, nevah, nevah give up”?  Could I give my life for this rare and beautiful gift even if it means that my companions aren’t always “Sweetness” and “Bliss” but, maybe, sometimes “Sorrow” and “Suffering”?  Would I give everything to keep the treasure?  Could I really be like Him – He, Who did just that?  “For the joy set before Him…endured the cross…”

This is the trust I lack: to know that if disaster strikes, He carries me even there.  Trust in the wholeness of the gospel…If authentic, saving belief is the act of trusting, then to choose stress is an act of disbelief…atheism.

To lack faith perhaps isn’t as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God…Don’t the believers have to believe?  Don’t the saved have to trust the Savior?…

Much of the worry in my own life has been a failure to believe…a wariness to thank and trust the love hand of God…I can’t experience deep joy in God until I deep trust in God…Trust is everything.

Recently I have had “God is Good”, “You are Good” on repeat in my life.  Quite possibly, because I need to remember that He is Good!  Even if the “gift” laid in my hand seems unbearable…nothing I would have chosen…it isn’t because He isn’t good.  Maybe it’s like my friend Jennie said, ”

I will not tell you , "things will get easier".  So far in my experience,
things just keep getting harder and harder.  But I am changing, my faith
is changing, and there IS grace to be had in the midst of all the

Thanks is what builds trust…Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on…Count blessings and find out how many of His bridges have already held…

Can I really believe that He cares for me, that He delights in me, that He loves me when all seems to be hard, hot, boiling, downcast, depressing, disasterous, ugly?  Isn’t love supposed to be beautiful, sweet, full of smiles?  Maybe it is…maybe it was…but we left that Eden a long time ago.  Now, love is what we fight for.  It’s the treasure we seek, the Life we give up our own for. Now love is found beneath the surfaces of the dirt and mire of all of life.  It doesn’t just nicely lie on the face of all creation…it has to be put in the dark, cold, grimy, dirt…required to die in order to live.  Joy is from heaven; so, the only way to find it on earth is to find my Narnia chasm here and walk through and grasp it.  “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21  I must remember, though, that Aslan told the “Kings and Queens of old” that they had to take what they had learned from His World, Narnia, and learn to live in their own…and yes, they would meet again!  How can one live on this earth when they’ve tasted heaven like that? 

Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren’t I advertising the unreliability of God?

Gratitude lays out the planks of trust…Is that why the Israelites kept recounting their past – to trust God for their future?…

So, just like the Israelites, just like David, I must write Him down…I must remember so I can take the next step.  Otherwise I am stuck in fear and anger and self-pity and, well, self…immobilized…paralyzed…and the prize meant for me awaits…and will I give it all up because I wasn’t willing to trust the Truth?

gratitude was the preeminent attitude of the Christ-follower…It’s only when you live the prayer of thanksgiving that you live the power of trusting God.  I had never known what the door of eucharisteo might lead me into – and all the fears it might lead me out of.

Ann says she “didn’t know”; I guess I’m still at the “I don’t know” stage in this.  I’m still learning to trust…and sometimes I don’t want to.  Sometimes I don’t want to smile at the future, and there are many days that kindness is not the law of my lips.  There are days that only begin and end in thanksgiving instead of overflowing in them.  I am still learning…and remember, I don’t like learning…I like knowing.

If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?…graciously give us all things He deems best and right?  It is safe to trust!…Thanks feeds our trust.

Safe.  A word that seemed far from me growing up.  When you are living in a basement with your mom and her abusive boyfriend, peeing in a cold sink, swirling in a chair with a mom crying and screaming because the abbusive boyfriend is coming at us with a knife…when you are living in, what you would later find out was, the projects – the ghetto of your hometown and eating mostly bologna and bread unless Memaw and Pawpaw brought some groceries…when you later find out that your mom didn’t just drop you off at your babysitter’s house for an overnight stay but a semi-permanent one…when drunkenness, immodesty, damning language, and sex is lived out and encouraged…when you’re a knock away from all power and water being turned off not to mention being homeless…safe is not a word you are acquainted with.  Safe is right up there with the Cinderella story you love so much – gone at the strike of the clock.

Safe.  Maybe I still struggle with that one.  But as I think about those moments of fear and insecurity I hear God asking me to see – to really see…to see Him.  To SEE Him there…in those moments of fear and anger and sadness and disgrace and hunger and abandonment.  To SEE that He was there watching…allowing Himself to see pain and sin and hurt…taking it all in…Himself remembering all over again His Son’s death…the night His One and Only would take all these sins onto Himself so that all mankind could get out of this mess.  To SEE that He did not leave me there alone but stood there with me…for me.  To SEE that I have never been left anywhere alone…to SEE I have never been left…only always led.

Jesus calls me to surrender and there’s nothing like releasing fears and falling into peace.

Watch me live a life of yes.  To all that was and is and is to come.

Now, on the other side of that, but in the midst of this, and walking toward that, I have this Hope…this Anchor for the soul…firm and secure.  I must believe in the One Who has never left me nor forsaken me.  I must SEE Him as much now as then as when.  So I must stop using my “hands” to hide my past, to choke my now, to resist my future.  I must unfold the fingers, turn the hands up, spread all wide and say Yes…to the gift given…to the one staying…to the one taken.

All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends…Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is going to be enough and hasn’t counting one thousand gifts…exposed the lie at the heart of all fear?  In (Him), blessings never end because (His) love for you never ends.

I clutch soul bread and a Perfect Love that knows no end.

His love never ends.  He never ends.  He Is.  He is Love.  Truth-Love never ends!  Love doesn’t depend on me…give thanks!  His love only always finds its existence in Him…thanks! O, how He loves…me…thanks!

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong…Yes, Jesus loves me!