Thursday, May 15, 2014


This is my seventh post in a series on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Each post will cover one of the eleven chapters of this book on seeing God and learning how to live fully... right where you are. Each post will be tagged 05/2014 and One Thousand Gifts. All quotes in italics are from the book.

Chapter 7: Seeing Through the Glass

My day started with a frustrating phone call. The doctor who needs to review my daughter's scans to tell us if she is a candidate for a cochlear implant is out of town this week, won't be able to meet with us until the end of next week. We have a two week window from the time she is old enough for the surgery until he goes on his yearly month-long vacation across the world. Time is running out and we keep getting pushed back and pushed back.

I hung up the phone and immediately launched into a barrage of how-it-could-have-been-differents. I chided myself for not getting on their case sooner, calling and following up to push them. I lamented the ploddingly slow medical process. Then I flung myself forward and started worrying about how this will impact events to come. Will we get pushed back to after her surgeon's vacation and have to wait until August to get this done instead of doing it in mid-June? What will that mean if she requires two surgeries instead of just one? Will it be September, October even, before she is activated and we can finally start working on her hearing instead of July like we've been hoping? Three months could make an immense difference and what will it mean if we have to wait that long?

Suddenly, in the middle of all that mind-spinning, my thoughts stopped and to the surface of my mind came a text message from a friend who, struggling with anxiety herself, has been texting back and forth with me, each of us sharing our struggles and our hope in Christ. She said,

"Thought I'd encourage you with a friend's thoughts re: staying focused on the present. [Today is the best day to live in. The past always holds some kind of regret, and the future always a worry. It's not worth it. Jesus is here now. That's worth everything!]"

I marveled as I thought... that's exactly what I was doing! I was stewing in the regrets from the past, things I can learn from, sure, but things I can't possibly do anything about, have no power to change. And then I flew into the future, worrying about whatever will come. Again, this can do me no good. I can think carefully and plan, but I cannot dictate what will come. I don't hold tomorrow in my hand.

Immediately after this, a Facebook post (of all things) popped into my head. It wasn't even one I meant to read; I haven't been checking my news feed, just following the folks I love most. But in checking a message, my cursor flicked over to the little ticker in the side bar and hovered over this status, one God clearly meant for me to read:

"I must go into each day with the single expectation that You will go *with* me. All things beyond that blessed fact are beyond the scope of my vision. I should not seek to gaze upon the future--because, in gazing, I often forget that You are there, too. A Godless glance into what-ifs is the very threshold of anxiety. But eyes shut in faith, clinging to Your Hand, heeding to Your whisper, is the very essence of faith. I do not need to *see* what lies ahead; I only need to *know* Who leads me.

"Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses & infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over & dwell) upon me!" (2 Cor. 12:9, AMP)

Pitch Your tent over me this day, Lord. Help me leave my anxieties at the Door."

It doesn't take much to realize what God wants from me. He wants my eyes closed, my hand open. He wants me waiting for Him and watching for Him. He wants me peaceful in Him, not regretful or fretting in myself. This is the heartbeat of counting gifts, the patient expectation of what God has for us. But how quickly I can forget; apparently, it only takes one phone call.

Chapter seven is about focus.

"[Jesus] looked up to heaven, to see where this moment comes from. Always first the eyes, the focus... Contemplative simplicity isn't a matter of circumstance; it's a matter of focus."

My focus had been on myself, on my daughter's medical team. They messed it up, making it take longer. I didn't do everything I could have to push this forward. Together, we have failed my daughter, holding up something she needs. But as I thought about it, as I searched my own heart, I acknowledged God's timing. The scans coming from a different doctor? We needed that done, but it held things up. Her doctor being out of town this very week? It meant we had to push back the appointment. His vacation in July? He takes it every year; it's not a surprise. God is in all these "circumstances", these things I wish to change. These events are His movements, His doings.

"Why do I reduce The Greatest to the lesser instead of seeing the lesser, this mess, as reflecting The Greatest? I have to learn how to see, to look through to the Largeness behind all the smallness. Isn't He here?"

My eyes always immediately fall to my circumstances, how all this is messed up and wrong. What I fail to see is God in this place. All around me, these babies and this home and our family and everything we have been given, they are all reflections of Him. And instead of seeing how these things are broken, I need to fix my eyes on how they reveal Him. Instead of a wait for surgery, I can marvel at the miracle of bringing hearing to deaf ears, be it in June or July or August or ever. Instead of an inconvenience, I can trust in the wait, knowing that God has gone before me and is laying these stepping stones in exactly the way that brings Him most glory and does His children most good. This is a God I can trust and I know that... But I must remember.

"Oh, son. So hard. To see all this material world as transparent, glass to God. To practice migrating one thousand gifts on paper to one thousand all eyes to one thousand smiles on lips. To transfigure the principle to the skin."

I have seen the glory of God and forgotten it. I return daily to His Word and disremember. I seek the holy and get caught in the earthly. This is our life on earth. It is why we long for heaven, to the day when we will no longer get bogged down in ourselves and our things and the mess and will instead have eternal peace with God, a right relationship, all healed. The only way, while we're here, to make it through the mess without shunning God, without casting Him off, is to seek -- constantly -- for Him. To search out the holiness is all this earthliness. 

"Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)" We can only see this part-way. It's like we're looking into a mirror with the light so low we can barely make out the image. Manna-style, what is it? And in light of this, Paul goes on to say, "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)" So now... Because we only know in part right now (though we will one day know in full), because we don't have the full picture, we must walk... how? In faith. With hope. In love. These abide. Not our knowledge, not even the prophecies or gifts.

Faith -- a belief that God will keep His promises, even though we cannot see it at this moment. 
Hope -- an expectation of the great joy that will be ours in Christ.
Love -- the highest expression of gratitude, of thankfulness, of eucharisteo, that we can offer to God, to our fellow man. The highest expression of sacrifice that God showed in Christ reflected by us in our obedience to God and our seeking good for fellow man.

These are the pillars that hold up our lives. Not our ability to understand it all or dictate it all, to command the future and redeem the past. But rather our eyes-closed, hand open faith, waiting, with all trust in that great hope that has been proven to us in a majestic display of love in Christ.

"Like Jacob, we ask, breathless and heaving, where He is, who He is, for His name here, the only real blessing. 'Please tell me your name.' We have named the graces and there found His name, Glory, and in the face of man we have seen the face of God. Then Him, the blessing, God, joy-water in the desert.

But wells don't come without first begging to see the wells; wells don't come without first splitting open hard earth, cracking back the lids... It takes practice, wrenching practice, to break open the lids. But the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is."

We first have to beg to see the wells. And everyone's life offers opportunities for this. We all have moments of dire thirst, moments in the wilderness when we desperately need relief. Those moments require of us only one thing: to cry out, in faith, with hope, toward Love.

"I'm blind to joy's well every time I really don't want it. The well is always there. And I choose not to see it... If I am rejecting the joy that is hidden somewhere deep in this moment - am I not ultimately rejecting God?"

We must seek to see. We must have faith that God is here, even here. We must walk out in hope that we will find Him. We must trust in the love that God has proven for us. God is here, even in the mess of doctor schedules and flub ups and missed opportunities. We have a choice -- we can see the well. Or we can focus on the dirt on the mirror. We can ask for God; show Yourself! Or we can point fingers and blame and worry. God wants for us the peace of trusting Him. He wants for our hearts to dwell in the moment with Him. And He waits for us in love, an ever-present well, deep and cool and quenching.

Tune back in on Saturday, 5/17, for my post on Chapter 8: How Will He Not Also?

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