July 11, 2011

two words

Two words...
that's it!  that is the very essence of our being. two words resolve the search for the fullest life. two words promise an overflowing cup of joy. two words humble and bring people to their knees. two words suffice for a love that we most certainly do not deserve. and two words are exactly what the Creator longs to hear.
Thank you

These words are simply common courtesy, especially for those raised in homes of Southern hospitality.  You open a present and you are writing a "thank you" note at the very same time.  You happen to get a very hospitable waitress at a restaurant and expect to see a big "Thank You come again" at the bottom of the check (right beside the blank tip line!)  These are two words that have become a part of our everyday vocabulary, and because of their commonality, how often do we belittle the importance of these words?

I just finished a book that asked me this very same question.  Ann Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts, challenged me, one of her readers, to begin on a journey that took her dull, self-centered life and transformed it into a beautiful wellspring, overflowing with joy--she had found the key to gaining the fullest life that the Lord truly intended for her, and for all of us, to have and she wanted to share it with everyone.  I was intrigued from the moment I read the plea on the front of her book-- "A dare to live FULLY, right where you are".  Who doesn't want that--the full life?  In a world filled with brokenness, who doesn't yearn for contentment?  To travel back to Eden, a time before hurt became reality.  So, in the middle of Sundog Bookstore in Seaside, Fl, I said YES!  While, at that moment I didn't know exactly what I was saying yes to, I knew that I too wanted to drink from the same water as Ann Voskamp.  To have my thirst quenched by a fuller life.

Without spoiling the book for whoever plans to read it, I will put into essence what I learned and the importance of those two little words.  Voskamp believes that in order to find joy (and I don't mean the temporary kind that only leaves you longing for more, but the joy that is never ending, which is only found in Christ) gratitude must become the cry of our heart and the foundation of our lives.  If everything in our lives are lifted up in thanksgiving (no matter how small the graces seem) how can our gaze not be constantly looking up.  Learning the art of gratitude in every aspect of our life, teaches us how to let the Lord become a part of every aspect of our lives.  And that is what HE truly longs for.  An intimacy with us that can only be formed when we are living in constant recognition of the grace-love that He is always showering down upon us.

To see His love through everyday blessings, makes it a little bit easier to see the blessing in the hard times as well.  When we see the immeasurable amount of gifts that God has placed in our lives, we begin to realize that His love for us is in fact great enough to cover the times of suffering that we all inevitably face.  If anything, we should feel a comfort that such a loving God is the one in control, and that He longs to hear our thanksgiving and have us receive with open hands and open hearts pure, unfailing joy.  Yes, it is always easier to feel God when things seem to be going good, but He is just as present in the storms of our lives.  Knowing His love through gratitude we learn to trust.  To trust that He has our best interests at heart, and that He will show us a rainbow after the storm.  

So, here is my challenge to you today.  The same challenge that is breaking me free from the chains of sadness that have had their wicked hold on me, and entering me into a joy that is like none that I have ever known before.  Ann Voskamp, challenged me, to see if I could write down 1000 things that I consider a blessing in my life.  I grabbed a pen and some paper and began my gift list...a list of gifts from God that I wouldn't normally think twice about.  My morning cup of joe, the sprinkler that gave me a cooling relief on my mid-afternoon jog, and the stranger that shared with me his love for Jesus Christ in the middle of a crowded coffee shop.  This scavenger hunt to find gift after gift, has brought so much joy into my life, that the only thing I wanted to do was share it with others that they might be able to seek and find the same joy that I have found in the Lord.   

It only takes two words...
Say Thank You today and let God give you joy in return.

Oh, and pick up Ann Voskamp's book!  
You will not be disappointed.  

Find it here on Amazon