Many of you have heard me talk about the book one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book has now entered into my top two, right behind the thrilling titled, Shattered Dreams by (everyone say it with me now) Larry Crabb. When I first started reading this book back in February I was slightly annoyed. I was like, “Oh great, another book about being thankful.” I’m sure it is written by someone who’s most difficult challenge in life was that the tough economy had caused her family to be so financially strapped that they could only take 4 vacations instead of their normal 6. I wanted to hear from someone who was hurting and had disappointments that they talked about in PRESENT tense, not past tense with a big bow wrapped around it. I put the book down and picked it back up in May.

Something began to happen. At the start of my counseling internship, I read these very words, “Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” – Ann Voskamp

Hmm….could she know something about suffering, longing to live freely, wanting chains to fall off of her weary and broken legs too? Was I actually reading a book that my heart longed to write? This phrase knocked the wind out of me when I read it and I want to challenge you to comment on it, “When did I stop seeing life as dessert?”

What happened to me? How did I get to this place of life losing some of its luster? How did I get caught up in monotony and the longing for a Pottery Barn life? Surely this is not the abundant life that Jesus spoke of. So what was Jesus’ invitation? What is Jesus’ invitation?

I have had to take an honest look at the depths of my heart and realize that I would never be happy with a life that did not include an incredible story, so what hold me back?

“Wherever you are, be all there. I have lived the runner, panting ahead in worry, pounding back regrets, terrified to live in the present, because here-time asks me to do the hardest of all: just open wide and receive.”

It is in the HERE AND NOW, in THIS MOMENT that God is….that God invites us to live fully alive to Him RIGHT NOW. In the mundane. In the waiting. In the learning. In the interactions with the addicts and desperate. But aren’t we all desperate? Some of us just hide it a little better than others. A beautiful Jesus invites us to a dance. A race. A walk. Sometimes a crawl. I have to choose thankfulness. Moment by moment. Day by day. Choosing thanks. This is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, too often I want to cry about what I think I need or want, but He is extending an invitation to look at those moments and say, “Thank you that somehow this moment of utter sorrow is an invitation to press in to You.” It has been very difficult, but something is happening internally that I believe is good and I believe is 100% the spirit of God and His kindness. I long to be known as one with a grateful heart. A heart that sees life as dessert and an adventure with the Father. An invitation………

One thought on “Something Strange in this Neighborhood”

  1. Beth! I JUST- like seriously 10 minutes ago JUST commented on a friend's blog who is walking through a season of suffering and said, "Two books that have opened my heart to treasure the suffering in my life are Shattered Dreams and 1,000 Gifts." No joke- I'd take a picture and send it to you, but I am confident you believe me 🙂 Ann writes in a way that my heart screams but can never find the words to and i could just weep and scream YES! out loud. Sometimes i do. There are times that I think, "Lord why {this!?}? Why does {soandso's} life go exactly according to their plan!?" and then Larry and Ann have reminded me to ask, "Why me? Why do i GET to experience you this intimately through this and {soandso} walks through life content with their own plans, finding lesser satisfaction in them!? Thank you Lord." its so unbelievably counter-intuative but so incredibly, unfathomably rich. I wish I could come hang out with you…. Would you like to make a trip around the globe!? We could get coffee here too 🙂 I've been putting in requests for the other Beth to come on a coaching trip, and I think you two would make a dynamic duo. Miss you!
    – Haley Strouth

Leave a Reply