One Thousand Gifts: The Final

I must apologize for missing my One Thousand Gifts post last week. The family and I were on holiday with limited internet access. I thank you for walking through this beautiful book with me. What a gift it has been to share this conversation with you. This is our final post in this series.
It was the furthest I’d ever been away from home—cradled by that Texas canyon. Two days into the retreat and I still hadn’t been able to reach home. I’d never left them before—not like that; not so long, not so far. Others travel all the time, but not me—not this mamma. Never wanted to when all I love is right here, within reach of my two arms.
But this time I wanted to.
I wanted to go.
But there was no cell coverage in the canyon and the internet was down at home and two days into the retreat I still hadn’t heard the voices of my boys nor seen their faces. All our plans of skyping and picture sending were buried deep in the West Virginia hills.
I didn’t want to, but I broke down a little—quivering lip and all. Ann and Ann were there and they said, it’s ok, we understand. But I felt so silly—this West Virginia hillbilly so far from home. And Ann took my hands in hers, looked hard into my eyes and said, “Laura, I GET this.”
She did.
I go and they stand under the shade of the maple, all six of the love-children, and that chiseled Dutch man stands tall behind them, and with hand that has held me he holds our youngest. They all wave, wave like banners in the wind, and I’ll carry the memory of the ocean-blue eyes all across the Atlantic. I watch them long in the rearview mirror and I am an amnesiac being healed, for I really remember that eucharisteo has taught me to trust. I leave crops in the field and a husband with half a dozen children. There are a thousand ways to humbly let go.
Why do we leave?
What are we looking to fill? Is it that crazy love we are searching for, urged on by the sehnsucht? Do I really think that there is something out there better for me than the love He offers right here…right now?
But then…why do we stay?
Is it fear? When an opportunity comes knocking and He is giving this gift…why do I let fear turn my face in the other direction?
…I would have let fears that He wasn’t close, wasn’t passionately caring, wasn’t tenderly tending, keep me from seeing this sunrise bleeding love up over all the world? Now that would have been crazy! Look at that love that orchestrates red over water, that arranges light to play ocean in shimmering lines, that composes sky to gradate, scale of luminosity. And all for us—in this moment! He chose me—us! To be His bride! True, that’s the intellectual premise of the Christian life, but only as the gifts are attended, not as ends but as means to gaze into the heart of God, does the premise become personal, God’s choosing so utterly passionate. So utterly fulfilling.
He is the Giver of all good gifts. And only He can fill. Could it be that by leaving and by staying that I honor Him? Because He always stays. He never leaves. So I find Him, either way. Or maybe I should say…He finds me.
…Had I left the farm, left my small world, got on a plane to fly a whole night over watery depths, landed in Paris, the romance of France, traveled, yes, even to one of those thousand places you must see before you die, for God to speak to me the exact same word He had spoken to me back at the farm, had been speaking to me for months, a year and half now—the same word He speaks everywhere?
This is how great the Love is and Ann says she discovers “how to make love to God.” Do I dare to use those words?  “The intercourse of soul with God is the very climax of joy,” she says, but I feel shy of these words. I read them over and over and ask, what does this mean? Really?
But deep inside I know.
Luci Shaw says it this way:
Even physical, sexual desire is only an echo of the huge wanting that consumes us, which is never satisfied this side of heaven—the desire to know someone to the fullest, a clenching of two bodies, two souls, the need for a supreme and burning intimacy.
I, too,  remember the Psalm: My soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
I do not understand it. I am not a theologian. It is one of the great mysteries of God. There is a reason why He calls himself my Bridegroom. There is a reason why He is portrayed as Lover in the Song of Songs. This Mystery is the becoming one that goes even beyond the union of a husband and wife. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor. 13:12)
I am fully known. Is there anything more intimate than that?
Mystical union. This, the highest degree of importance. God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul, fed by His body, quenched by His blood—this is where eucharisteo leads. Lover bestows upon the Beloved gifts, the Beloved gives thanks for those gifts and enters into the mystical love union…
For Ann, it us eucharisteo that takes her there. For me, it’s playdates with God. Whatever it is that works to usher you into His presence. But is there any question that these—all of this—it’s all from Him, out of His glorious riches of love.
Out the kitchen window the sky rolls out. Apple blossoms fill all the orchard. The morning dove warms her bluing hope. I can hear Him, what He is telling the whole world and even me here: this is for you. The lover’s smile in the morning, the child’s laughter down the slide, the elder’s eyes at eventide: this is for you. And the earth under your feet, the rain over your face upturned, the stars spinning all round you in the brazen glory: this is for you, you, you. These are for you—gifts—these are for you—grace—these are for you—God, so count the ways He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can’t help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace. Eucharisteo. Eucharisteo. Eucharisteo.

This is the last in a series on Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right WhereYou Are. 

Related:
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter One
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Two 
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Three
One Thousand Gifts: The Now Sanctuary
One Thousand Gifts: The Hard Eucharisteo 
One Thousand Gifts: The Great Beauty Hunt 
One Thousand Gifts: Seeing Through the Glass
One Thousand Gifts: Just Trust 
One Thousand Gifts: Go Lower 

Comments

  1. says

    Laura,
    I know that pull to go, that pull to stay.

    This piece goes deep…deeper than my preoccupied mind can dive this morning. I’ll be coming back to read it again.

    Thank you.

  2. says

    Thank you for this Laura. I admit I struggled a little to understand that part too. Your words make it clearer. Oh, there is so much of heaven and Him we cannot know fully. But even this little part is so full of glory.

  3. says

    These thousands of gifts
    These magnificent mysteries
    This unquenched longing
    This unlimited grace
    Complexly simple, His Love
    And simply amazing.

    I thank you for the joy your work has revealed, Laura. May we be blessed to see much more.

  4. says

    Laura, I’m so glad you did leave that time, and that you overcame the fear of letting go, and I got to meet you there in Texas and there in Pittsburgh (were you getting braver, with your husband in tow?:)

    Love the words you’ve woven of Ann and Luci here.

  5. says

    We do have an unexplained longing…a deep pull to a richer life.

    And we pursue that longing through relationships, possessions, busyness – a hundred crazy, misguided ways.

    And really, it just comes back Home to where we belong.

  6. says

    Such a rich touching post. The longing the missing. The piture etched in our mind forever. Very deep! I now want to read this book. I have read several of your post and know this is one I would gleen so much from.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Blessings

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