A Lifestyle of Thanksgiving

1 Corinthians 11:26

When children sleep under the scraps stitched into quilts and the clock ticks too loudly through the dark hours and the spiral galaxies spin in space, I lie under the afghan by the fire and read the words of an old sermon. It is weeks later now, and the mind stores things, waiting for such a time when God aligns the stars. I read,

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live… He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.”

Breath leaves the lung.

I whisper in the dark: Eucharisteo!

It really might be the mystery to the fullest life…

I lie on relief. I might have found the holy grail… and lost it, moved on. And yet really — hadn’t God set the holy grail in the center of Christianity? Eucharisteo, it’s the central symbol of Christianity. Thanksgiving. The table with its emblems is the essence of what it means to live the Christ-life. Sunday after Sunday in our nondenominational Bible church, we’re formally invited to take the bread, the wine. Doesn’t the continual repetition of beginning our week at the table of the Eucharist clearly place the whole of our lives into the context of thanksgiving?

And too… it’s the most common of foods, bread. The drink of the vine has been part of our meal taking across centuries and cultures. Jesus didn’t institute the Eucharist around some unusual, rare, once-a-year event, but around this continual act of eating a slice of bread, drinking a cup of fruit from the vine.

First Corinthians 11:26 reads, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup” (NIV) — whenever.

Like every day. Whenever we eat.

Eucharisteo — whenever: now. Joy — wherever: here.

Doesn’t Christ, at His death meal, set the entirety of our everyday bread and drink lives into the framework of eucharisteo? The Big Dipper lurks low outside the window. Yet how does the framework of eucharisteo undergird a life? Penetrating the mystery is like discovering galaxies; there is always more.

I stand the next morning on planks of light lying down across the floor, and I bake bread, yeasty dough moist between my fingers, and that one word works me, again and again — eucharisteo. I won’t let it go this time. I’ll enter into the mystery.

I shape loaves and think how Jesus took the bread and gave thanks… and then the miracle of the multiplying of the loaves and fishes.

How Jesus took the bread and gave thanks… and then the miracle of Jesus enduring the cross for the joy set before Him.

How Jesus stood outside Lazarus’s tomb, the tears streaming down His face, and He looked up and prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…” (John 11:41). And then the miracle of a dead man rising! Thanksgiving raises the dead! The empty, stiff cadaver surging, the veins full of blood, the alveoli of the lungs filling with oxygen, the coronary arteries full of the whoosh of thrumming life.

How there is thanks… and then the mind-blowing miracle! I lay loaves into pans and feel years of the angst lying down too. Eucharisteo — thanksgiving — always precedes the miracle.

The bread rises.

And I stand in the kitchen stirring a kettle of lunch’s lentil soup, the one that calls for the salsa and the carrots and the hungry children, and I read while stirring and I have to sit down to let the words find their places: “The only real fall of man is his noneucharistic life in a noneucharistic world.” That was the fall! Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall — humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives. That is what has scraped me raw: ungratefulness.

Then to find Eden, the abundance of Paradise, I’d need to forsake my non-eucharisteo, my bruised and bloodied ungrateful life, and grab hold to eucharisteo, a lifestyle of thanksgiving.

Excerpted with permission from One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces by Ann Voskamp, copyright Zondervan.

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Your Turn

During this season intentionally set aside for giving thanks, spend some time asking the Lord, “In what ways that I’m not even aware of have I been ungrateful?” Think about the “scraping” effect of ingratitude in comparison to the abundance  and miracles that follow eucharisteo. Ask God to fill you with deep thankfulness wherever there hasn’t been a grateful response. Then thank the Lord for His goodness, mercy, grace, and daily gifts. Please join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp is the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of the New York Times bestsellers One Thousand Gifts, which has sold more than one million copies, and The Broken Way. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places. Millions do life with her at her daily photographic online journal, one of the top 10 most widely read Christian sites: www.annvoskamp.com

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