I have a personal confession to make: I dislike those emails that ask, “Remember when?” When I see pictures of blue and pink 1957 Chevrolets, a reminder that bread was 12 cents a loaf or that mothers wore nylons that came in two pieces, I shake my head and say to myself, “Sorry, I’ve moved! That’s not my address anymore.” Yet, the funny thing is that where I am living today, it wouldn’t surprise me to see pink and blue Chevrolets or two piece nylons.
Whether 1950 or 2011, granted, the past has had a powerful influence on who we are today, but it doesn’t have the last word. For me, as I take leave of 2011 before leaping into 2012, the last word is “thanksgiving.” For many years, I have taken the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to pour over my journal to review all the ways God has shown Himself faithful to me during the last twelve months.
I am all the more eager to start this reflection process because of a book I read earlier this year: “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp (Zondervan 2010). Her writing style has so captivated me that I am reading the book through for the second time. Phrases such as “every person born enters the world: with clenched fists” and “feelings that don’t fit neatly into the stiff ties, the starched collars of sentences” and her questions such as, “Why do I lunge for control instead of joy?” jump off every page.
In her struggle to make meaning of personal loss and family tragedy, Voskamp discovers a biblical lifestyle of “radical gratitude.” The core of the book centers on her new awareness that with less than twelve hours to live, Jesus “…took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…(Luke 22:19 NIV)." Voskamp explains that in the original language “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.” Far from being a memoir about one person’s struggle to move beyond grief, her understanding of scripture is inspiring as well as revelatory. She invites her readers to join her on this journey of “eucharisteo,” not through a plan or program or discipline, but through a living relationship with Christ. As a supplement to a daily reading of God’s Word, “One Thousand Gifts” is near the top of my list for anyone who wants a transformed life!