Editor’s note: It’s time to start seeing all of God’s blessings for what they really are — gifts. There are truly too many to count when you step back to see what gets you through an entire day. Ann Voskamp has an intricate eye for the detail in the smallest of blessings. Her poetic voice in One Thousand Gifts is a beautiful representation of God’s wonder and imagination for our lives. Don’t you want to see the world like that? Well, we’re hosting the One Thousand Gifts Online Bible Study with Ann beginning on November 18th. We’d love for you to embark with us on this personal, honest, and fresh exploration of what it means to be deeply fulfilled, wholly happy, and finally fully alive. Enjoy the following excerpt from the book and join the Online Bible Study today! Registration is now open. Sign up here!
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. — Sarah Ban Breathnach
I roll out the dough, sprinkle the ring cheese on round pizza thin. I feel how the sun lies down warm across hands and how thanks soaks through the pores. I think how God-glory in a cheese ring might seem trifling. Even offensive, to focus the lens of a heart on the minute, in a world mangled and maimed and desperately empty.
I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? 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. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks.
This thanks for the minute, this is to say the prayer of the most blessed of women about to participate in one of the most transformative events the world has ever known. Mary, with embryonic God Himself filling her womb, exalts in quiet ways:
My soul doth magnify the Lord. — Luke 1:46 KJV
So might I; yes, and even here.
Something always comes to fill the empty places. And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me. This, this, makes me full, and I “magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30 KJV), and God enters the world. What will a life magnify? The world’s stress cracks, the grubbiness of a day, all that is wholly wrong and terribly busted? Or God? Never is God’s omnipotence and omniscience diminutive. God is not in need of magnifying by us so small, but the reverse. It’s our lives that are little and we have falsely inflated self, and in thanks we decrease and the world returns right. I say thanks and I swell with Him, and I swell the world and He stirs me, joy all afoot.
This, I think, this is the other side of prayer.
This act of naming grace moments, this list of God’s gifts, moves beyond the shopping list variety of prayer and into the other side. The other side of prayer, the interior of His throne room, the inner walls of His powerful, love-beating heart. The list is God’s list, the pulse of His love — the love that thrums on the other side of our prayers. And I see it now for what this really is, this dare to write down one thousand things I love. It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me. The true Love Dare. To move into His presence and listen to His love unending and know the grace uncontainable. This is the vault of the miracles. The only thing that can change us, the world, is this — all His love. I must never be deceived by the simplicity of eucharisteo and penning His love list. Cheese. Sun. Journal. Naming. Love. Here. It all feels startlingly hallowed, and I breathe shallow. I should take the shoes off.
Excerpted with permission from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, copyright Ann Voskamp.
* * *
Start today by writing down 10 little things that you’re grateful for. There’s nothing too small. Let us know how your eyes are opening to God’s many blessings in your life this week. Come share on our blog!
Sign up for the One Thousand Gifts Online Bible Study
In this video Online Bible Study based on the international bestselling book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp invites you take on the life-changing discipline of journaling God's gifts—to really look at life and find the good in it.
It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life that we already have that we discover the life that we've always wanted... a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. And only then can we come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved—by God.
When you sign up, you'll receive:
- FREE access to five One Thousand Gifts teaching videos with Ann - recorded at her farm. These videos will be available throughout the entire study.
- FREE downloads of the Session 1 study guide, and the first 3 chapters of One Thousand Gifts to get started.
- FREE Gratitude Bundle:
- beautiful quote prints
- gratitude notes
- grateful jar printables
- and cell phone lock screens
- Plus, FREE access to an online community and discussion groups with others going through the Bible study with you!