I attend one of the local Christian church's Bible study here in town and we just finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I know that God had the women of that church choose this book specifically for me and what I was going through in my life. Life had thrown Paul and I a curve ball and I felt like I was struggling with my head barely above water and I needed a helping hand desperately.
Paul has been furloughed since April of this year. During that time he was able to find a job as a handyman as well as help with a lot of responsibilities at church. Between him working his odd jobs and me being able to get my old data entry job back, we were able to pay the bills and we had food on the table. For the most part I felt peace about everything that was going on. God has always been faithful in the past and I knew He would help us through this time. Every month, after paying the bills and buying a week's worth of groceries, I would feel my chest tighten and tears stinging my eyes ..... every month I would have to pray again that God would give me peace about our situation and remind myself that He is always faithful.
When I went to the ladies' Bible study I had no idea what this book was about, but it didn't take long for me to realize my life was about to change for the better. We read the book through the week, then every Tuesday we would watch a video from the author that would be incredibly deep, and after watching the videos we would have group discussions and talk about even deeper issues going on in our lives. It was uncomfortable sometimes, for me, and I'm sure all the other women, because we don't like to talk about the things we are dealing with. I know for me, I hate talking about my weaknesses and struggles.
Eucharisteo. Grace. Joy. Thanksgiving.
She taught us about the Greek word eucharisteo -- this is the word that can change everything: eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them … ” (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy.
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo; the table of thanksgiving. The holy grail of joy, God set it in the very center of Christianity. The Eucharist is the central symbol of Christianity. Glynn, 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?
One of Christ’s very last directives He offers to His disciples is to take the bread, the wine, and to remember. Do this in remembrance of Me. Remember and give thanks.
This is the crux of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo.
Once she introduced eucharisteo in the book, I have done my best to have grace, to be thankful, and to have joy every single day. Sometimes it isn't easy when the kids are spilling cups, bouncing off the walls, or not taking their naps so I can get some work done, but I don't let it discourage me. I am not perfect, but each day I strive to be better than I am today and hopefully I will be where I want to be!
God ..... is always good and we are always loved ..... even when what He gives may appear ugly. Ann Voskamp
I could write so much more about this wonderful book, but I think you should just read it on your own and see what you think! I will close with this story about my husband and I that happened just a couple weeks ago .....
On our way home from visiting family we experienced a life lesson. We drove through a major town and I suggested to my husband that he should get gas. He had intentions of doing so, but he figured there would be one more station up ahead every time he passed an exit leading into the town. 90+ miles later, we got off on the appropriate exit leading us to the next major town that is 30 miles away, and we only have 15 miles of gas left in our tank. We have ran out of gas more than once in our nearly 8 years of marriage so that fear is always in the back of my mind (that is also why I nicely suggested getting gas 90 miles ago, but oh well!) so realizing we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere with four small children and no cell phone service was hitting home fast.
Even though I felt the anxiety creeping in to my heart I did my best to remain calm. My natural instincts would be to start a fight, but I knew God was giving us a life lesson and I really didn't want to blow it.
We found a little town on the side of the road that we pulled into hoping to find a gas station ..... they had a school, a fire station, a post office, and no gas station. At this point we only had 10 miles left so we pulled back onto the highway hoping to find a station soon. Paul and I watched the miles go down from 10, to 9, to 8, to 7 ..... I suggested to Paul that we needed to pray together that God help us, and he made sure to let me know he had already started a long time ago! :-) I started praying too -- whether in my head or out loud I can't remember -- but I prayed and asked God to divinely help us. I told Him I had faith that He would help us whether we found a gas station or not. I had peace as Paul and I continued to watch the gas gauge go down to 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 .....
We drove on 0 miles for a little while, and we saw a bend in the road. I told Paul with confidence that there was a gas station around the corner and that God was with us. I didn't know for sure since I had never been in this area before, but I strongly believe God told me. We went around the hill, and there was a tiny little gas station just waiting for us.
God took something that could have been ugly and taught us an amazing lesson -- though we didn't realize how amazing of a lesson till the next day.
The day after we were home from our trip Paul went back to work as a handyman. A couple hours after he left he called to say that, after 6 months of being furloughed from the railroad, they were calling him back to work!
Sometimes we feel like we are running low on God's blessings. We see the blessings meter running down to empty and, though we have no idea how God will do it, we know He never, ever, ever leaves us stranded on the side of the road. He will always remain faithful. He just wants to see how faithful you are to Him.
I am kind of surprised at how long of a post this is. I read through it wondering if I should edit it to make it a little shorter, but honestly I feel like everything on here needs to stay. So for the few who actually read this post to the end, I really hope it blesses you and you feel encouraged. I don't know what you're going through in your life, but God does, and maybe He led you to this post for a reason!
In the stressful times; seek God.
In the painful times; praise God.
In the terrible times; trust God.
At all times ..... At all times ..... At all times