My word came early this year. It pressed itself in during the deep dig of truth’s plow throughout Advent. It whispered to me in a quote shared by Ann Voskamp in her devotional The Greatest Gift which said:
“A prison cell in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
As those words soaked through, I found I could pray only one thing.
I had exhausted every option to gain freedom. I came to the end of myself and I cried aloud to him, “Come, Lord… I cannot get free.”
And, he came. All through Advent he met me. Nothing glorious or earth shattering. He came in the simple things. He came in response to my simple cries to him.
It was no surprise, then, when I prayed for this year’s word and heard, “Come.” I heard it clearly. I heard it deeply. I heard it on repeat.
Isaiah 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Isaiah 55:3 “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
I found myself in these verses. My bankruptcy and the promise of being met. My longing for life and connection to this God who offers love.
As I thought about this “Coming,” and as I pondered the “how” of this word, I came across the familiar story of the ten lepers. They called out to Jesus in the prison of their disease and he healed them. “And as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14)”
As they went.
They were healed along the way.
They had to step forward.
And I remembered these last 18 months. Have I not experienced healing in the moving forward? I read on:
“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well [has saved you].’" (Luke 17:15-19)
Ann Voskamp visits this story, in her book One Thousand Gifts. She writes “Sozo means salvation. It means true wellness, complete wholeness. To live sozo is to live the full life. Jesus came that we might live life to the full; He came to give us sozo. And when did the leper receive sozo-the saving to the full, whole life? When he returned and gave thanks.” Then this, “We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks.”
I think back on this healing journey I’ve been on and I understand now. It’s time to give thanks. It’s time to begin the lessons of gratitude. I cannot find myself healed and neglect the giving of thanks.
As I consider what it will mean to come to the Lord this year, I realize it will be in the offering of thanks for the details of life I have missed for many years. I will choose to look for the beauty in the ugly. For every small or big thing I find myself thankful for, I will be opening a door in my heart for Him to come. In every grace-filled moment or pain filled difficult season, my prayer is that my eyes can be opened to see joy in the now.
The Lord quickened my heart to a verse this year.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
By offering words of thankful praise, I will draw one scoopful at a time of liquid salvation, the water that brings true wellness and complete wholeness.
I know that as I come to him in my thanks giving, he will come with joy and grace. I will grow to trust this God who for so long has beckoned my reluctant heart with the plea, “Trust me,” for trust will grow in the soil of gratitude. This will be my first year of finding contentment where I am. For too many years I have burned with the desperation to be somewhere else, to be fixed, to be anything but what I am. As Ann so simply states,
“life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.”
(One Thousand Gifts)
“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”
I'm linking up with Bonnie Gray at:
I'm linking up with Bonnie Gray at: