Ch. 1: An Emptier Fuller Life
Excerpts: “I say no to what He’s given.” “[In my ingratitude, the original sin], I’ve believed God isn’t good. God doesn’t love me. If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no.” “Losses tear a hole in the canvass of the world. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency.” “We don’t see the material world for what it is meant to be: as the means to communion with God.” “Grace means favor from the Latin word gratia.” “Could I live like that–the choice to open the hands to freely receive whatever God gives?” “I don’t know why all [the bad stuff] happens. But if Hezekiah had died when God intended, think of all the evil that would have been avoided because Manasseh would never have been born. Maybe you don’t want to change the story because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” “Manna means what is it? It’s a mystery. For 40 years, the Israelites filled up daily on the mystery. The soul filling is inexplicable.” “I wonder if the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God.” “How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God communion.”

Reflections:

I read this chapter and the stories of her losses and how they affected her, and I wept. I wept because I identified. For the first time, I realized how much of my optic on life was marred by blotches of pain, rends of loss, and stains of grief. Torn by anger, singed by rejection, I have wondered how true, fulfilling, unending joy promised in the Bible is even possible. Something reserved for heaven, I guessed. But to read a here that she has found the gateway to that joy in this life. I was captivated.

And I was convicted. The Lord says to give thanks for all things, but my thanks have been contingent on circumstance–when life is good, I’m thankful. And when it isn’t, well…I haven’t been. But that has put me in the same boat as her–saying yes to God, but living the no. I remember what Mark Buchanan said about thankfulness being the secret gateway to the Kingdom, like the wardrobe was to Narnia. And yet, I have been like Peter and Susan, having every reason to believe this truth but nevertheless doubting it.

Jesus, forgive me for living the no. Forgive me for doubting, denying, complaining. For not being grateful. For turning from what You say and thus turning from what I actually need. Which then caused me to look for joy in places that could never satisfy. I have spent my money for what is not food, and my wages for what does not satisfy. Today, Lord, I choose to listen carefully to You, to eat what is good, and to delight myself in abundance. Isa. 55:2-3