Friday, April 18, 2014

Voskamp's 1,000 gifts

From the last point of Sunday's sermon from Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel, we were reminded of the importance of contentment, which is related to gratitude, which is related to humility. If you're in good shape on that point (and his other two points: God owns it all; you're a steward and the value of work), your finances and your approach to finances will be sound.

A similar message resounds, for all of life, in Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Her writing is a reminder about the importance of gratitude and understanding the blessings we've received: salvation (and "prevenient grace") available to all of us bozos; "common grace" available to all whether we accept the gift of salvation; providential grace as God works through people and events to accomplish His will. And "isn't one grace enough?" (p. 93)

Voskamp is particularly persuasive in finding grace in everyday moments. The book stems from a friend's challenge to write down 1,000 gifts (and by extension, to quit complaining).

Voskamp writes poetically; she is a pleasure to read. And she's good on doctrine as well, working in lessons about the original Greek. Throughout, she notes that the Greek word for eucharisteo, charis, char, chara are all related-- grace, gift, thanksgiving, gratitude. In particular, I had never connected the term Eucharist to gift and thanksgiving. Beautiful.

On the story of the 10 lepers in Luke 17, she relates that the 10th leper (the only who returns to Jesus) is told that his faith has made him "sozo"-- usually translated "saved" (p. 38). The term "saved", biblically, is must richer than mere justification or the usual narrow use of "salvation". It means to be saved to the point of wholeness and wellness; to be redeemed; and so on.

She points to Christ's response to "failure" in Mt 11:25-- to give thanks (p. 36-37) and in the midst of  difficult circumstances (p. 35). In both the case of the Eucharist and prior to the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus gives thanks. "Eucharisteo-- thanksgiving-- always recedes the miracle."

Reading the book came at a good time for me-- a relatively dry period. Likewise, I strongly recommend the book if you're in a phase like that. But it's good stuff whenever! In particular, it contains a vital message for parents to pass along to their children-- negatively, that the world does not rotate around them; positively, that they have so many reasons to give thanks.


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