Chapter 6: what do you want? the place of seeing God of Ann Voskamp’s beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are is the topic of today’s post. (I’m one chapter behind, Chapter 7 discussed today at Bloom Book Club)
This chapter begins with Ann’s husband’s tender plea to see something special. Dinner is very late and she is trying to serve the eight in her house and she really fights not taking two steps to the window. But, she does and there. there is the exquisite gift of harvest moon.
After an almost rhetorical question asking her husband if he would stay and serve dinner so she could go…go to the moon, she leaves the house with her apron still on and ‘hunts the moon’ quickly being drawn back to the summer after the tragic death of her sister, Aimee, when she and her brother ran across the fields to touch the setting sun. Now she runs for this moon…
‘Dusk and all the arching dome and the field and the great-bellied moon, it all heaves, heavy with the glory. I heave to breathe: The whole earth is full of His glory. Sky, land, and sea, heavy and saturated with God—why do I always forget?’ ~p.106
What do you want?
Isn’t that the sole question we all need to circle back to, over and over again. And who knows the answer?
I feel it in my chest first, before any answer of layer of answer finds shape in image, words…My body knows it, the way tension drains from shoulders and a heart unknots. I loosen, breathe long… ~p. 107
This kingdom laden with glory, this, this pearl of great price, the field I’d sell everything to possess.
The only place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God.
This is what I’m famished for: more of the God-glory.
I whisper with the blind beggar, “Lord, I want to see” (Luke 18:41) ~p.108
It is hard to say that I definitively pick a favorite chapter, because, well, you know, it is all so beautiful and I want you all to read it, but more, experience this. this God-glory. this free-to-live-run-seek-love unreservedly, this free to be His. simply His. and know in the deepest places that you are living what you were made to live. to seek. to desire. to worship. Him. Simply Him.
And yet, beyond-imagining or containing, Him. Forever Him. Heaven come down. Eternity beginning now. A life that in the moments transcends and also, in great mystery, is necessarily truly living before a watching world. This is not the road to nirvana; that state of absorption; nothingness. But, the road to deeper and deeper clarity and seeing Him. A Savior who lived and laughed and loved and gave IT ALL for us. Not simply the moments on the cross, but all that led to it—All of Him given for ALL OF US. The WHOLE WORLD and our whole, best selves.
I want this for you because I want it for me. And as we see Him, we behold His glory, we are made like Him and more of His Glory fills this world.
It is the life I have tasted and embraced and squandered and lost and forgotten. It is the life that is stirring in me again…the Life that cannot be contained.
Here’s a bit of that story:
This chapter was a hinge of sorts opening up the door into my past.
I can say with honesty that I have lived many chasing-the-moon moments. I have lived as a crazy, beautiful free woman that opened herself up wide and embraced Life as He means it to be lived. I have run after His Beauty for a long, long time and screamed psalms (in pact with an accountability group in college called ‘the Screaming Psalmists’) on hills overlooking Barcelona, Spain; and the Blackstone Valley in Massachusetts and in my own backyard when He gave the gift of glorious sunsets daily behind a run-down house that was my parents’ home and in third world countries and sweating heat and loving it all to bear His love. His Gospel.
But in my giving-it-all and running to Him, I have also run from Him. The Wholly Jealous One that calls me His Own. Beloved and Beautiful. I have given the best of my expressions of love for Him in words and passion and life to someone unworthy. I have shared the deepest moments of intimacy with Him, meant only for loving, safe community, with this same one. And I have been reckless with all of these gifts. And in the end this one left my life and ultimately left Him; stealing away a part of me with his departure—or so I thought…
…my heart broken and learning one of the hugest life lessons.
His are the only Arms that will never let go. He is the Only One Worthy of seeing into the deep places and it is only in the glorious covenant of marriage that I am free to share these deep places as I had so foolishly with one unworthy.
So closed the space of four years of memories in my life…of seeing Him and living in His love wild and full …because they made me think of the other one. The unworthy one. The Enemy’s lies are insidious; subtly woven in the midst of sharing good things (Scripture; life callings; books and how they stir our hearts) too often and too much and then to have them rejected coldly, suddenly, fully. Though I have so desperately wanted to find this wild, abandoned me again, I have not known how.
And so when I wrote about God restoring the years that the locusts have eaten—it was in part about these four years and the hurt that followed and His amazing, pursuing love that has used Ann’s journey to draw me back to Him and knowing Him, truly seeing Him in the deepest places of my heart. To remind me that these spaces and places were always His. He’s created and formed the deep in me and it links me to all of this image-bearing world’s heart and His heart…your heart; my beloved gift of grace of a husband’s heart.
This is what it is to embrace a community of love that is real and safe and a gift.
‘Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God’ (A.W. Tozer) that Ann highlights in this chapter, is just one small reminder of His restoring those years. Past the voice of another, is His voice reminding me that He was the One who touched my heart and stirred it. Though my view lay blocked too often in that time…all real and true woven in the tapestry of my life was through His unrelenting gaze upon me and my return of that One gaze.
The things He gives are never lost—He holds them all and, as He heals and makes whole, tucks them like precious jewels tenderly, soothingly placed into our revived and renewed and restored heart of hearts.
Thank You Lord, the Great Healer, Who sees us in our deepest pain and Who calls us to see You, Your Glory in all things:
- for restoring these years
- for writing this post
- for sharing with my husband what you are teaching me
- for how you heal as we open our wounds to you
- for Your Grace with utter foolishness
- for all that has come in beautiful love since that broken heart
- for a faithful-beyond-words man who loves this wounded me
- for how he makes me want to be a better wife—to love him better
- for saving me from a huge mistake, in ripping the unworthy out of my life
- for Your being a jealous God
- for how You love enough to smash our idols
- for purifying my worship
- for humbling me and writing my story; Your story
- for the glorious, little
- for a son who acts out his frustration in his Cars’ and Thomas trains…lightning mcqueen, Chick Hicks, the King, and Thomas, James and many more
- for tender affection between a mother and son
- for a sweet girl who hams it up with sunglasses
- for her love of hats and beads
- for toddling steps
- for glorious weather! (COME VISIT!)
- for breezes and a porch
- for an afternoon at the beach
- for tactile therapy for my son rolling in the sand
- for chasing waves
- for cool, refreshing water
- for Your Beauty…free to behold…called to behold
- for amazing friends to behold together
- for little friends who run wild at the ocean
- for baby girl’s undeterred delight in the crashing waves
- for sand to exfoliate while sitting with daughter
- for chattering lips THAT REFUSE TO LEAVE THE JOY OF THE WAVES
- for snuggling in towels
- for enough fear of ocean to want to be held
- for van keys that quickly distract from the tears of leaving
- for son who accepts and says ‘bye ocean, I’ll see you soon!’ with a wave and many reminders to the ocean by repeating over and over
- for twin’s mother-in-love trusting you in cancer; the same as our mom’s
- for twin’s heart of faith and beauty in the midst
- for it being too hard and deep to talk about even with her twin—b/c You see
- for KELLY’S amazing news of no cancer cells in lymph nodes!
- for a short course of treatment and return to Hungary in April!
- for always and ever the BEST yet to COME!
#821-863 of the One Thousand Gifts of the endless list of gifts…ways/places of seeing Him!