One Thousand Gifts – chapter six

Chasing the Sun (White Rock, British Columbia)

what do you want?
the place of seeing God

chapter six
One Thousand Gifts

How appropriate that I read this particular chapter after meditating on Psalm 27 all week with the Run2Him women. I absolutely love how God just so happens to work these things out for me…

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

My heart says of you,
“Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness
of the LORD
in the land of the living.
–Psalm 27:4, 8, 13 NIV

So Ann chases after the Harvest Moon rising up in the horizon. She is filled with giddiness, joy, delight. She feels the tug of what she ought to be doing, and yet glorying in the beauty – the Divine being reflected in Creation – she realizes THIS is what we were made for.

Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty — more of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for — to give Him more glory. (p. 109)

We struggle with the balance, the remembering – and then we are given these moments of absolutely DIVINE beauty. They surround us all day, every day – but we are often so busy we miss them. Our eyes aren’t open, our hearts and souls are blocked from the beauty that surrounds us.

When I was 16 I had a yellow duotang. I wrote about beauty. I know that duotang exists somewhere in a closet under the stairs. Every so often I come across it and I’m kind of blown away that at 16 I had insight into beauty, and God. And every so often, when I read it, my heart remembers that pull of seeking His face, reflecting in His beauty, and begging to be a mirror to reflect to others with what He has so graciously blessed me.

And not just “others.”

I am naked and I am right ashamed. I know how monstrously inhumane I can be. Raging at children for minor wrongdoings while I’m the one defiling the moment with sinful anger. Hoarding possessions while others die of starvation. Entertaining the mind with trivial pretties when I haven’t bowed the head and heart in prayer longer than five minutes in a week. My tongue has had a razor edge and my eyse have rolled haughty and my neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, an idolater, a glutton, and a grace thief who hasn’t had time for the thanks. (p. 116)

With my own children, whom I LOVE, I fail. I woke up angry THIS MORNING at my son because of a dream! I was short with my sweet 3YO because she wiggled too much while I was combing her hair. My fuse is short – and we have this GRACIOUS GOD giving us sunshine, beautiful sunsets (I’m so grateful that Dear Husband can capture that beauty in a lens for me), sparkly raindrops reflecting rainbows in sunshine on trees like Christmas lights in spite of a grey sky. And I somehow, horribly ungrateful person that I can be, focus on the negative. The sweet child I spoke of only yesterday, Savannah, I have already yelled at this morning because she was too noisy playing in the bathtub with her little sister. Their squeals were joyful – and I was yelling at them to silence their joy. How I must be squelching their inner curiosity and joy with my “peace and quiet.” There they are finding DELIGHT in the simple daily duty of bathing (until it’s time to have their hair washed) and I’m trying to make the laughter and squealing CEASE?

I am a wandering Israelite who sees the flame in the sky above, the pillar, the smoke from the mountain, the earth open up and give way, and still I forget. I am beset by chronic soul amnesia. I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need come aching every day — bend, clutch, and remember — for who can gather the manna but once, hoarding, and store away sustenance in the mind for all of the living? (p. 106)

So, what is it that I want?

I want the Face of Abba to shine on me. I want to see it. I want the scales to be pulled from my eyes, my heart to be softened, my life to be opened to Him. To the graces. To be grateful.

And to not feel the weight of inadequate parenting – but instead to feel the joy of being gifted five beautiful lives to share. Please Lord, help me to increase in seeing beauty, in seeing YOU in my children, delighting in them, and NOT crushing their spirits. Why do I get so frustrated? Because I’m living within an imagined context of what I think is expected of me – and the curiosity of my children, their distractedness, their wanting to try things differently, or finish things that I feel are not important that are consuming their being at the moment come second (or 900th) to what I am afraid of is being thought of me. Did that come out right? I am MORE consumed with what others MAY think about me than what is important to my children, to even MYSELF, and more important – To GOD.

How I want to see the weight of glory break my thick scales, the weight of glory smash the chains of desperate materialism, split the numbing shell of deadening entertainment, bust up the ice of catatonic hearts. I want to see God, who pulls on the coat of my skin and doesn’t leave me alone in this withering body of mortality; I want to see God… (pp. 110-111)

I am weak. I fail. I want so badly to be gentle, generous and gracious to my children – and the moment they step into my room – I start to hound them. Thank you Abba for NOT being that way towards me. That when I come to your presence, you open your arms, surround me, hold me, whisper how much you love me, point out to me the beauty that you see in me…

Please help me soak in YOU Abba so that I may become more like you.

Beauty Captured on Feb 2, 2012 by KJM Photographic at Regent College

•••

I am having a really hard time getting buttons to work for me right now. I need to have a sit down with Dear Husband and have him teach me how to do it, so instead of giving you the beautiful button-links for the sites that encouraged me this week, I’m posting the links, and just so you know, this week Ann has REALLY been posting some beautiful love moments with The Farmer. Inspiring little moments that make your toes almost curl. And the team at Do Not Depart are really diving into Psalm 27 – it is NOT too late to jump in and join the Run2Him study (it’s never too late)!

•••

Another thought about Psalm 27:10

After a heated moment with our eldest this week, and a night of heartbreaking momma worry and prayer, I opened up my Bible to this week’s Run2Him Passage and this verse seemed to be strobing at me:

Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. 
— Psalm 27:10 NIV

And after an evening where Dear Husband and I were talking, heavy-hearted, about attachment and trust issues, this verse was like a revelation to me. My daughter has literally experienced this. She hasn’t been able to see what love is, worked out in the nitty gritty of life. She doesn’t understand that our worry for her, which often comes across as anger (because it is), is due to our love for her, our desire to protect her and keep her safe. She has only witnessed violence between people who “love” each other, and not just slamming doors and yelling violence – hospital & jail violence, self violence, lies, deportment, hate. She of COURSE doesn’t trust that we love her – because love to her can change over things that we wouldn’t even consider. The people who she trusted to care for her, couldn’t. And here I am, lying in bed, in pain, and she may even love me, and yet this baby, this injury, this circumstance is creating so much anxiety for her – because what if something goes wrong? Already I’m not able to be an active part of her life (cooking, cleaning, watching her skate) and she has to go through all the effort to converse with me.

And this verse pops up – and suddenly I am compelled to pray for her in an entirely new way. And I’ve asked others to join me – not just for her – but all my children, and all those children who are in foster care, especially those who are teens, who are aging out of the system. Who have been orphaned by this world – that we, as the Body of Christ, may be “religious” in the words of James:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:27

Thank you for giving me children Lord. Please help me to see what you see in them. Open my eyes to really love, to be a safe place, to be a sign pointing to you – grace-full, loving as-you-are, not loving when-you-get-it-right. Please Abba, I canNOT do this – I’m too selfish, to worried about what others think, too wanting-to-be-right all the time.

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