A Return to Glory and Grace: God’s Wild, Secretive Plan

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From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.

Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude.

Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sins?

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.

Standing before that tree, laden with fruit withheld, we listen to Evil’s murmur,

In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened… — Genesis 3:5

But in the beginning, our eyes were already open. Our sight was perfect. Our vision let us see a world spilling with goodness. Our eyes fell on nothing but the glory of God. We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see. And, true, there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn’t beheld, the sinfulness we hadn’t witnessed, the loss we hadn’t known.

We eat. And, in an instant, we are blind. No longer do we see God as one we can trust. No longer do we perceive Him as wholly good. No longer do we observe all of the remaining paradise.

We eat. And, in an instant, we see. Everywhere we look, we see a world of lack, a universe of loss, a cosmos of scarcity and injustice.

We are hungry. We eat. We are filled… and emptied.

And still, we look at the fruit and see only the material means to fill our emptiness. We don’t see the material world for what it is meant to be: as the means to communion with God.

We look and swell with the ache of a broken, battered planet, what we ascribe as the negligent work of an indifferent Creator (if we even think there is one).

Do we ever think of this busted-up place as the result of us ingrates, unsatisfied, we who punctured it all with a bite? The fruit’s poison has infected the whole of humanity. Me. I say no to what He’s given. I thirst for some roborant, some elixir, to relieve the anguish of what I’ve believed: God isn’t good. God doesn’t love me.

If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no. I have. Infected by that Eden mouthful, the retina of my soul develops macular holes of blackness. From my own beginning, my sister’s death tears a hole in the canvas of the world.

Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency.

In our plain country church on the edge of that hayfield enclosed by an old cedar split-rail fence, once a week on Sunday, my soul’s macular holes spontaneously heal. In that church with the wooden cross nailed to the wall facing the country road, there God seems obvious. Close. Bibles lie open. The sanctuary fills with the worship of wives with babies in arms, farmers done with chores early, their hair slicked down. The Communion table spread with the emblems, that singular cup and loaf, that table that restores relationship.

I remember. Here I remember Love and the Cross and a Body, and I am grafted in and held and made whole. All’s upright. There, alongside Claude Martin and Ann Van den Boogaard and John Weiler and Marion Schefter and genteel Mrs. Leary, even the likes of me can see.

But the rest of the week, the days I live in the glaring harshness of an abrasive world? Complete loss of central vision.

Everywhere, a world pocked with scarcity. I hunger for filling in a world that is starved.

But from that Garden beginning, God has had a different purpose for us. His intent, since He bent low and breathed His life into the dust of our lungs, since He kissed us into being, has never been to slyly orchestrate our ruin. And yet, I have found it: He does have surprising, secret purposes.

I open a Bible, and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. It’s hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts:

His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory. – 1 Corinthians 2:7

He means to rename us — to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes. From the very beginning, that Eden beginning, that has always been and always is, to this day, His secret purpose — our return to our full glory. Appalling — that He would! Us, unworthy. And yet since we took a bite out of the fruit and tore into our own souls, that drain hole where joy seeps away, God’s had this wild secretive plan. He means to fill us with glory again. With glory and grace.

Excerpted with permission  from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, copyright Ann Morton Voskamp.

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Your Turn

If you are ruthlessly honest, would you say that you may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really lived the no? I’ve had seasons when that has been absolutely true. Are you ready to be filled again with glory and grace? I am! Come join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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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