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Giving Thanks in the Small Things

Ann Voskamp quote God gives gifts

Some days I pick up a camera and it’s a hammer.

The lens is my ink, for cameras have sensor eyes, and pixels record. I slide it into a pocket, a thin point-and-shoot, and find another way to chronicle, to force the lids open; another way to receive the moment with thanks reverential.

When he comes in from the barn, the Farmer finds me with my hammer in hand, leaning over a plate of cheese grated and sitting in sunlight. It is true. I do feel foolish. I mean, it’s curls of mozzarella and cheddar piled high in a pond of golden day. And I’m changing the settings for macro, pulling in for a close-up frame. He’s fed 650 sows with one strong arm this morning, flicked on a welder and melded steel. It is quite possible that the God-glory of a ring of shredded cheese may be lost on him.

It isn’t.

“I like finding you just like this.” He wraps one arm around my bowed middle, draws me close and up into him strong.

“Crazy like this?” I blush silliness, and he brushes close with the four-day stubble. He laughs.

Perfect like this.” He nods toward the cheese plate. “You being happy in all these little things that God gives. It makes me very happy.”

Happy in all these little things that God gives. Ridiculously happy over slips of cheese. That I am, and it’s wild, and, oh, I am the one who laughs. Me! Changed! Surprised by joy!

Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.

It is true, I never stop wanting to learn the hard eucharisteo for the deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice. Yet now wisps of cheese tell me gentle that this is the first secret step into eucharisteo’s miracle. Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant — a seed — this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life — even the hard — is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out.

There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.

I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). And I, too, would nod and say straight-faced, “I’m thankful for everything.”

But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life.

A lifetime of sermons on “thanks in all things” and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.

Little nails and a steady hammer can rebuild a life — eucharisteo precedes the miracle.

I snap a picture of cheese.

Excerpted with permission from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

What are some specific, small, simple, everyday things that you are grateful for today? Have you experienced receiving joy when you’ve given thanks in this small things with a full heart? We’d love to hear about it! Come join the conversation about thankfulness on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily