One Thousand Gifts

As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew and I have been on the road a lot the past few months. In February, we were gone or traveling 17 out of 28 days. That equals a lot of hours in the car. The roads here are not really the most conducive to reading or doing any computer work, so I've been listening to audiobooks, which is a new thing for me. sucked me in with their free first month, then discounted 3 months when I tried to close my account, but I've definitely got my money's worth of listening pleasure.

One of the first audiobooks I picked up was One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Apparently this was a big deal in the States when it came out (and still is, according to the NY Times Bestseller list), and you may have heard of it. Living in Cambodia makes it a bit more difficult to hear about new authors or books, so I stumbled on it via a friend's recommendation. 

It took me a few months to get through One Thousand Gifts because it challenged me on so many levels. Being thankful in my life is difficult for me. Sometimes all I can see is the lack of good - the poverty, the sickness, my own sinful desires hiding in my heart, the inconveniences of life, the dogs barking at midnight and children crying at dawn. I ignore God's command to give thanks in everything - the happy, the exciting, the mundane, the difficult, the broken. How can I thank God for the wrong things in life, the things I don't like, what I'm really not thankful for?

But, as Ann points out, how can Christ redeem what we refuse to thank him for? Because thanksgiving precedes the miracle of transformation.

I need a miracle. Poipet needs a miracle. This world needs a miracle. We all need the miracle of rebirth into salvation in Christ, and the giving of a new heart. 

So I started a gratitude journal - a list of 1,000 gifts, choosing to thank God in all circumstances.

At first, I was only writing what I liked - cool breezes, coffee, fruit, friends. But I'm slowly realizing the purpose of this exercise is not to record all the good things in my life, but to thank God for everything, and to watch how he changes my heart from selfishness to one of gratitude that sees God's hand in all areas of life. 

Because I love to complain. I love to say how I would make things better, work harder, make better decisions, always pointing out the deficiencies of the present. If I'm not doing it out loud, it's happening in my heart. 

But God doesn't say, Give thanks for the good stuff and tell me when you don't like how I'm running the world, running your life. He says, give thanks in every circumstance. 

So that's what I will try to do - and hopefully it won't take me years to make make my list of 1,000 gifts.
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