Friday, March 25, 2011

The Sweet Life: One Thousand Gifts Chapter Eight

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreOh this chapter was just what I needed. Just when I think this book has challenged me, molded and shaped me to the max, it goes and does it again. I just cannot say enough about this book and it was so exciting to see one of my favorite bloggers over at Fly Through Our Window is reading it as well.

Chapter Eight Video Discussion

How often do you find yourselves telling someone "I am stressed". Life is swelling around us at rapid speed and we continue to pack on more and more activities, projects and time stealers. All of these things add up to more and more stress. That doesn't even include the sickness, financial strain, job loss, grief, etc that are out of our control that build a foundation for our stress. Stress seems inevitable in a lot of ways but what is it robbing from us. Is it my underlying "attempt to prove how indispensable I am"? Am I allowing stress to fill my life with fear and anxiety? What if I think about it this way:
"Stress isn't only a joy stealer. The Way we respond to it can be sin." 
Ann reminds us of the verse from John 14:1 where God commands us, "do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; Trust also in me". Is trust as Ann mentions the antitheses of stress? I love how pg 147 discusses how stress can often be the easier route. I know personally it is ten times easier to let my mind wander and heart race than to truly dig deep and practice the discipline of trust.
"Without trust in the good news of Jesus, without trust in the good news of God's saving work even in this moment, without an active, moment-by-moment trust in the good news of an all-sovereign, all-good God, how can we claim to fully believe? This is the trust I lack: to know that if disaster strikes, He carries me even there."
Oh how my heart was convicted by this. If I can't really trust that in the thick of it God will carry me through, how can I say that I truly believe in Him and his goodness? When I allow stress to rule my heart and mind, am I not telling God he can no longer be King? Stress reveals a lot about my faith in Him. How do I get out of this rut? Can I allow eucharisteo to be the door to walk out of this life of stress?
"Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on...This living a lifestyle of intentional gratitude became an unintentional test in the trustworthiness of God - and in counting blessings I stumbled upon the way out of fear."
In a lot of ways this goes back to the idea that as we list our blessings we find peace in return. As I feel the anxiety and stress creep up, whether sitting in the car in line at carpool or waiting at the doctor, I simply start naming my blessings and my gratitude... Thank you God for...this clear spring day, the new blooms of buds on trees revealing your promise of new life, the laughter and squeals from children on the playground...I feel the release. The tension leaves my body and the peace inundates the places stress has fled.
"Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out the planks of trust. I can walk the planks - from known to unknown - and know. He holds...Because remembering with thanks is what causes us to trust - to really believe...when you the live the prayer of thanksgiving you live the power of trusting God."
When we are in our moments of stress and anxiety we are ultimately worried of what will not be provided. Sickness - will we be provided healing. Grief - will we receive relief and be refreshed. Job loss - will we be provided with new employment. Overwhelmed by what must be accomplished in the day - will we get it all done and will we get more time. The list could go on and on. Overall we fear lack of provision. Hasn't God given us ALL that we need?
"He gave us Jesus. Jesus! Gave Him up for us all. If we have only one memory (of what God has done), isn't this one enough?...If God didn't withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?"
When stress and fear overwhelm and it is hard to think of what God has done for you, can't you at least remember the ultimate blessing He gave you? His Son. The promise of eternal life with Him in heaven! Is stress really worth the loss of joy we experience when we have ALL that we need? If you can name no other gratitude, start with the ultimate gratitude. Find your gratitude for this ultimate gift feeding your trust in His provision.

There is so much rich material in this chapter and I don't want to ramble on and on and miss the point. I will finish up with this quote from page 158:
"Isn't that what that gratitude journal on the counter is? Opening the hand to receive the moments. Trusting what is received to be grace. Taking it as bread. Recount how we laughed today. How we cried today and it too was grace. How He fed us. We ate. We filled. We swept up the crumbs. So He lays us down to sleep. Trust tucks in. He has blessed today. Will He not bless again tomorrow?"
Where are the moments that you need to let go of the stress, give thanks, and build the bridge of trust with God? Start today and see the peace that God will give you!

Need to catch up? Check out the past One Thousand Gifts posts here.

***My spell check is giving me a little grief and not working, so hoping for the best folks!

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1 comment:

  1. I keep going this book that has changed my perspective on life in this new year. It is moving and has motivated me to leave my discontent and restlessness to start my own *dare*...a gratitude journal. Ann lives the grittiness of everyday life as a wife and mother and helps us to see God in the daily...the mundane...the ordinariness in which each moment is a an epiphany of God's love in our life...even in trials and setbacks. I am indebted to her and her writings