Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best of times...worst of times...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us...." Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities

This quote from the beginning of Dickens' classic novel resonates deeply within me. We have been in Guatemala for ten and a half months. There have been many wonderful, funny, humiliating, beautiful, eye-opening, heart-breaking, mind-blowing experiences. It has been the best of times... and the worst of times. Our family has had some of the most precious and dear moments with our Creator, but we have also experienced the agony of suffering and affliction for the sake of the call.

I have been reading a book called, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.  This little treasure of a book is slowly changing and transforming my heart and soul. The Greek word - eucharisteo means to be grateful, to feel thankful, to give thanks. Inside that word, chara means joy. The author asks a poignant question, "Is the height of my joy (chara) dependent on the depths of my thanks (eucharisteo)? .... As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. Here in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy is possible!" This is a profound thought to consider.

Things that bring me joy .... hydrangeas!

Can I really be thankful in all circumstances? There are plenty of scripture that speak to this idea, and yet I find it so hard to integrate when the storm is a ragin'. In an attempt to develop this discipline of thanksgiving in her life, the author started writing a list of one thousand things she is thankful for - the infinitely small things like shiny soap bubbles to the preservation of life after a potentially dreadful accident. Thankful for the good and the seemingly bad. "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21. Can I really do that? Can I really bless the name of the Lord when my life seems to be in the crucible? When God is crushing all that is within me which desires my own glory?

Love in my life = Joy!

I haven't finished the book yet. I am reading it slowly, allowing it to simmer - like a crockpot. Contemplating these ideas, challenging long-held beliefs and habits. I tend to be a stewer, it takes me time to process and think. My thought patterns are being transformed. Recently an incident occurred that was like a burr under my saddle. It was just under my skin - irritating me. Instead of stewing or worse, fuming - I thought right away - "how am I thankful for this circumstance?" I wasn't immediately thankful, I needed time to process it, but I immediately knew the end goal for my mental, emotional and spiritual being. Work toward thanksgiving! Press on to that goal. When I chose to pursue thanksgiving, I chose joy and contentment in all circumstances. Suddenly, the burr didn't seem to have as much power. Slowly, I was able to thank God for continuing to transform my heart and my mind - even in challenging or painful circumstances. The transformation is worth what is costs.

What are you thankful for today?

I'm pretty thankful for these bundles of joy! Even our little coneja (bunny)!

3 comments:

  1. I have read this as well, an recording the 1000 gifts, and have allowed it to change me as well. For me, it has been about seeing more beauty and being grateful in the ordinary. Great read!

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  2. I'm so thankful for the Radfords! Your example of allowing God to lead, mold, and change you is one reason I love counting you as a dear sister in Christ. The Everswicks are so proud of who you are! You are in our hearts and prayers daily. Thanks for sharing a portion of your journey with us.

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