The Standard November 27, 2019
One November morning Ann Voskamp, in the midst of making lists of holiday menus, shopping lists and lists of handmade projects to complete, received an electronic message from a friend asking her if she could write a list of a thousand things she loved – a list of one thousand blessings or one thousand gifts. These were to be gifts she already had, not things she wanted. In her book One Thousand Gifts Voskamp tells of writing the first three things on her list. “That is the beginning and I smile. I can’t believe how I smile. I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down – it is sort of like … unwrapping love.”
Today it is easy for many of us to call to mind numerous things for which we thank God. We are excited about celebrating Thanksgiving, spending quality time with loved ones and acknowledging the Source of all good gifts. The beginning of this holiday season sparks joy. For many others of us this is a difficult or sad time. We have lost someone close and there will be an empty chair at what normally would be a festive table. Many of us will struggle to make this season what we wish it could be for those whom we love. We want to be more like the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11b-13) At times we struggle with feeling thankful because right now the bad times seem to outweigh the good ones or because we are afraid of what the future might hold.
Voskamp writes, “All fear is but the notion that God’s love ends. Did you think I end, that My bread warehouses are limited, that I will not be enough? But I am infinite, child. What can end in Me? Can life end in Me? Can happiness? Or peace? Or anything you need? Doesn’t your Father always give you what you need? I am the Bread of Life and My bread for you will never end. Fear thinks God is finite and fear believes that there is not going to be enough and hasn’t counting one thousand gifts, endlessly counting gifts, exposed the lie at the heart of all fear? In Me, blessings never end because My love for you never ends. If My goodnesses toward you end, I will cease to exist, child. As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth and I am the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing-love-grace.”
Whether we find ourselves in a state of abundance or in a state of need, God’s love and grace remain constant and vast.
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:35-40)