One Thousand Gifts OBS Week 3 — All Is Grace

All is grace… because God is transfiguring all to bring glory to Christ alone. To make us more into the image of His Son. ~ Ann Voskamp

And looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. — Matthew 14:19

Welcome to week three of the One Thousand Gifts Online Bible Study with our wonderful teacher, Ann Voskamp!

Aunt Susan was buried a couple of weeks ago. Stomach cancer. A long battle. And her dear husband, Harry, is left to grieve his love.

Uncle Ronnie was buried that same week. ALS. A wrenching fight. And auntie Willy is left to grieve her darling one.

Since my father’s death four years ago, now only two of the siblings remain.

The hard discipline. To number griefs as graces. Veiled graces. ~ Ann

Loss upon loss. Grief on the heels of grief. Gaping hole after gaping hole.

The ugly beautiful of the Christian life comes with oceans of tears rimmed in the shores of hope and grace. It will not overwhelm but it may be all we can see for miles and miles. And often on that ocean of grief, deep darkness sets.

God is always good and we are always loved… even when what He gives may appear ugly. ~ Ann

Darkness is where you choose to seek the face of God. It’s where the wrestling happens, or where we choose to let go.

I recently heard a pastor ask two questions that I’ll never forget. “Do you know what the Lord uses to grow your faith? Doubt. And do you know what the enemy uses to chip away at your faith? Doubt.”

As with Jacob in Genesis 32:22-32 at Peniel, we don’t always know that it’s Him we’re grappling with. We can be thrashing around, with blood, sweat, and tears… and not see Him, not see that the spirit realm is right in our grimy hands. Close enough to grab and hold. Even if it’s fearfully, and doubtfully, and painfully.

And, like Jacob, if we choose not to let go of Him, but continue to wrestle through the hardest of the hard, we won’t walk away without a limp.

I will not let You go until You bless me! — Genesis 32:26

Isn’t that the heart of every believer? The wrestling. In the pain of life, in the ugly smashed against the beautiful, the glorious alongside the gritty gashes, we long to grapple with God until we see Him… to be tucked into the cleft, even though it is so dark… just to see Him.

In the messy, Jesus whispers, “What do you want?” and in the ugly I cry, “I want to see You…” ~ Ann

Lord, I won’t let go until you bless me.

When favor doesn’t look like favor, when gift doesn’t feel like gift, when grace doesn’t seem to be grace, there is His glory. Even if it is unseen. For now.

It is in the dark when God is passing by. The dark is the holiest ground, the glory of God passing by. In the blackest, God is closest. At work, forging His perfect and right and loving will. ~ Ann

So often, God’s graces come in darkness. His mercies first enter in brokenness. His abundance shows up initially as not-enoughness.

And looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. — Matthew 14:19

Eucharisteo comes first. In all. And all is grace.

Grace. That is what the full life is full of, what the God-glory is full of. To see the glory, name the graces, retune impaired senses, to sense the Spirit, to see His grace. ~ Ann

There’s grace. Even if for now there’s an ocean of tears with no sight of the shores of grace. Even if all hope, and joy, and peace, and strength is dead and buried.

In Jesus, it won’t stay that way.

I’m thankful for:
Dear family
Wise friends who know what to say
Wise friends who know when not to speak
Holding hands in prayer
The promise of Heaven

This week in your study:

1. Watch the video for session three on our study home page and join the conversation with fellow OBS participants afterward… Take notes in your study guide on pages 39-43
2. Go through the study questions with your group or on your own on pages 43-47.
3. Read One Thousand Gifts, Chapter 6-7.
4. Grab your Bible and enjoy your personal study this week on pages 48-52.
5. Join the conversations about the study and get to know fellow participants in the private Facebook group!

Scriptures this Week

Philippians 4:8
Psalm 27:8
Matthew 14:19
John 1:14-16 AMP
Genesis 32:22-32
Exodus 33:22-23

Prayer for the Week

Jesus, it is because of You that all is grace. It is because of You that the darkness will not last. It is in You that we find our hope when all hope seems lost. Thank You for the grace of giving thanks because it increases our eyes to see more gifts beyond what we initially recognize. We fix our eyes on You, the author and finisher of our faith. We love You, Lord. Amen.

Laurie McClure

Laurie is a Jesus apprentice, a single mama of five (three homegrown, one Kentuckian, and one Ethiopian), a writer, a beach lover, and she is addicted to radical grace, Perrier, and yoga pants. Here at FaithGateway she is the editor, the curator, and the leader of Faith.Full, our women's community.

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