Editor’s Note: Welcome to Sit & Listen Saturdays at Devotionals Daily! Enjoy reading as well as listening to this message today from One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp, read by Ann Voskamp.
Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand. — Isaiah 14:24
Why in the world, everywhere I turn, every page, always death? I’d like some happy, blithe, Pollyanna words, please. For a happy, blithe, Pollyanna life.
My gratitude journal lies open on the counter. I retrieve it, flip back through pages, and run my hand over penned numbers, memories of the Pollyanna moments. And I can see it in the looking back, how this daily practice of the discipline of gratitude is the way to daily practice the delight of God and what in the spring had been #362 suds in the sink grew over weeks and months.
G. K. Chesterton had said it, “Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.”
This counting blessings, it’s the unlocking of the mystery of joy, joy hiding in gratitude. Aren’t the Jesus people the most thankful?
And then it had seemed like it might be over all too soon. Come early winter, I jotted haltingly, not wanting it to end. And when I wrote the one thousandth gift, I had written careful:
1000. Resurrection bloom, an amaryllis
My mother-in-law had given us that amaryllis bulb the year before.
I had set it in the kitchen windowsill, under the porcelain dove. I had waited. A full rotation of the earth through the galaxy, I had waited. Cancer had left Mom Voskamp’s remains buried deep. And then. Her bulb had trumpeted a call: Fully live! Live fully! My one thousandth gift. I had swallowed hard. God had used the dare to give me this; led me all the way to give me this as the thousandth gift, exactly like this, to unfurl just this: Live fully! Mom Voskamp spoke to me from the grave.
Here are gifts worth waiting 365 days for, gifts worth counting to one thousand for, gifts that will unbelievably emerge out of the deathly dark. Joy is always worth the wait, and fully living always worth the believing. The pursuit! The bloom had trumpeted for weeks.
I had read it in Job, what makes reading God’s message in every moment a form of art, a masterpiece of the fullest life: God speaks to us not in one language but two:
For God does speak — now one way, now another. — Job 33:14
One way, His finger writing words in stars (Psalm 19:1-3), His eternal power written naked in all creation (Romans 1:20); and now another way, the sharp Holy Writ of Scripture that makes a careful incision into a life, blade words that kindly cut the tissue back to where soul and spirit join, tenderly laying bare the intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
To read His message in all the moments, in the waiting moments, the dark moments, the moments before the blooming, I’ll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world. Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world.
I had kept turning the pages. And into another year, another spring, another year of beans and corn and wheat under sun, I had kept writing it down, a free-for-all, a journal in my purse, one by my bed, another on the counter by the sink, a file on my computer, because the dare to write one thousand gifts becomes the dare to celebrate innumerable, endless gifts! That initial discipline, the daily game to count, keep counting to one thousand, it was God’s necessary tool to reshape me, remake me, rename me — unfurl me.
Daily discipline is the door to full freedom and 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. Was this now only the beginning of really becoming?
God, all that You make is good. And all that seems to oppose Your will is but a tool to accomplish it. Change my perspective today to see beyond the shadows, above the clouds, where the light never stops shining. Plant the truth of it in me: there are gifts worth counting to one thousand for, gifts that will emerge out of the deathly dark. Unfurl amaryllis grace today through the daily discipline of counting gifts, for I believe it: Joy is always worth the wait!
Excerpted with permission from One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp, copyright Zondervan.
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Have you begun a Thankful List of all the beautiful things God does in your daily life? Why not start today? Sunshine streaming through the windows. The laughter of family or friends at Sunday brunch. A little more time holding hands with mom who is battling cancer. The smile on a neighbor’s face when we brought his trash barrels in while he was recovering from surgery. A fun day with family at the beach. What are you thankful for? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily