There are holy moments in life, when all things conspire to reveal God’s nearness and tenderness. You don’t have to be seated in a pew (I was at the dining room table), dressed in your Sunday best (I was in my pajamas), sober of mood and pious of posture. You can be anywhere at anytime. It’s not about your efforts at all. It’s all about grace.
There are things you can know for years, but like the sunrise, you must be fully awake or you miss their glory. You know the ache, and you know how wrapping words around it somehow transforms it into a soaring thing. Into worship. But it’s all like pieces of an unfinished mosaic, each piece a shimmering jewel bringing delight, the whole yet to be revealed.
And then, one ordinary day, you see.
I’m reading this book, and it’s explaining me. I don’t know how else to express it. What I’ve known without knowing. What I’ve done without design. The pathway brokenness takes to become beauty. All the pieces are lining up, and the picture — so profound in its simplicity (ah, the foolish things of God!) — takes its rightful shape. “God is good.” I’ve declared this to hundreds. Thousands? “Everything He gives is a gift.” I’ve repeated it again and again. I’ve declared the fact, but have I encouraged the response?
Gratitude. Not just felt, but expressed. Named. Practiced.
I’m only through Chapter Three. Savoring — it’s never a good idea to rush a feast — and my soul is flourishing on this food. But I’m still learning to digest.
Rusty needed to take the week off, so Jacob is home. I admit my initial reaction to this development was slight annoyance. This wasn’t part of my plan. After being gone for almost three weeks, I have a lot to do. Photos to process. Words to write. Speaking gigs to prepare for. Now my attention and energies will be even more divided. I’ll be responsible for Jacob’s daily care. I’ll have to skip my favorite exercise classes — a physical release I’ve been craving after several sedentary weeks on the road. When Rusty explained his situation, I managed to keep most of my aggravation to myself — matters really are beyond his control — but I definitely didn’t go straight to gratitude. I didn’t see this extra time with Jacob as a gift. Until this morning.
I awoke with Ann’s words swimming in my head. Learn contentment. Practice gratitude. After I helped Jacob dress and got our breakfast, I gathered my devotional books and we read together. First I opened Oswald Chambers. “We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God’s power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.”
Conviction began there.
Then we read Streams in the Desert. “Is there ever any reason to be downcast? . . . there is never a reason to be downcast, for everything may be brought to God ‘by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.'”
Awe began there.
Then Daily Light. “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” And this: “Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” And this: “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”
“He addeth no sorrow.” So, who adds the sorrow? I thought. That answer seemed plain enough.
Repentance began there. Then we read the verses left this morning by loving husband and father.
Lamentations 3: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
And Matthew 12: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
And Romans 5: “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
Five times he repeated the phrase. Five times, because apparently some of us won’t catch it with only four. The gift is free. The grace is abundant. And so one wonders, wherefore this discontentment? Good gravy. Can I really be that dense?
Then Jacob and I prepared to approach the throne of grace. But how to approach? With thanksgiving, of course. So I asked him. “Jacob, what are you thankful for today?”
It’s never a good idea to rush Jacob’s answers. He turned his gaze to the window, and I waited. Finally, he spoke.
The pure in heart shall see God. How often I wonder what Jacob can see.
“What else are you thankful for?”
Another pause. Then, “Love.”
He continued to look out the window, and then he smiled.
“What are you smiling at?”
“The hospital windows.”
I followed his gaze, and sure enough, through the trees across the street, I could see a few second-story windows of the hospital on the next block. “Why are you smiling at the hospital windows?”
“Because so much good is done there.”
The first two critical weeks after Jacob’s near drowning were spent in that hospital’s ICU. So many people connected with that place are woven into the fabric of our story. So many other stories unfold there daily. Broken bodies healed. Fearful families comforted. Joy. Grief. Birth. Death. God-numbered days beginning and ending, while humans do everything in their power to help other humans live well.
So much good is done there.
We bowed our heads, and the gratitude flowed of itself, and faith rose to meet it.
Jacob is at home this week, and my cup runneth over. Today it’s filled with sight, love, and so much good. What’s in yours?
Giving thanks in community:
#23. Jacob’s pure heart and single eye
#24. Jacob’s childlike faith and ardent love
#25. Jacob’s wild and wonderful hair
#26. Jacob’s infectious laugh
#27. Jacob’s delightful presence, a gift to me this week
You must read Ann’s post today. I hopped over there to grab her button, and I came back with tears flowing down my cheeks. Happy honking today, dear friends. Life is too short not to.