*Please see the note I’ve placed at the bottom…Latanya (January, 20, 2015)
Open Handed Gratitude: Looking life in the eye and saying I’m blessed at all times…
Hearing Ann Voskamp speak with a gracious soft-spoken voice about living life with open-handed gratitude in all things brought me to my deepest point of my time and experience the weekend of She Speaks.
I wish I could recount every thought, every powerful emotion I had as I sat there listening to Ann speak God’s words of Life through her message of living with open-handed gratitude. I was floored with an outpouring of emotion that I sought with my all to hold back in the silence of that room.
The measure of Ann’s words, the sniffles as other ladies tried to hold back the tears that threatened to flow with abundance, made for a powerful experience of sitting simply in the awe of God’s Grace and Mercy.
Ann mentioned that as we are brought into this world we are born closed-fisted. Closed off, instead of being open-handed to all God desires to bring our way. It made me think about how many times I have held my hands tight in stubborn determination to have things my way instead of God’s.
How about you? Can you relate?
The enemy we all face is Fear. Fear gets in the way of God working in our lives. As Ann so eloquently phrased it: fear is “…always the notion that God’s love ends. Fear thinks that God is finite.” My friend, God is infinite in all His ways; it is our ways that are finite. Fear robs and steals; God gives freely and without remorse. Defeat fear by allowing God to transform fear into faith.
Ann also talked about keeping a gratitude list of the giftedness that God has given. What a challenge to view what we may see as the mundane experiences of life as something more…as gifts. Those moments of gratitude can be found by paying attention to your surroundings, your children, your spouse, your friends, your world and your life.
I think about my own challenge from a life experience, one that made the most noteworthy of differences in my life…the gift of an infant daughter, whose brief life should have shattered me, but yet her life was…a gift of faith, of perseverance, and a confirmation on God’s call for my life. God does that sort of thing. He brings surprises into a life, but only if that supply of His Presence is allowed to flow and shine in spite of the difficulties. There is beauty in that, unlike anything that can ever be imagined or produced on our own accord.
Life is a gift.
It is a life realized with the purpose that we were designed to bring to this Creation. We, you and me, were made to give God ALL the GLORY, THANKS, and PRAISE. If we live our lives missing the one key point that “every moment is a gift” then we have missed out on the gift of this life that God has given us.
Through my time of retrospect, even as Ann was speaking, God showed me that I was not living my life every day as though it were a gift. While at She Speaks I had been so concerned that no one wanted to hear what was on my heart. And for that matter, even in my daily life. God quietly, but with boldness, told me I wasn’t at She Speaks to solely make connections with other like–minded women, but to make a connection with Him in His Presence. That bit of Truth was His sol purpose for getting me to the conference; that weekend was about Him.
He wanted me to see Him and not my insecurities and doubts, or, for that matter, the successes that many of the ladies in attendance had already experienced in their ministries. He wanted the shy, insecure girl of my past and present to know that I was seen and heard and created by an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-gracious God for His glory and His service and for His purpose. And that my “getting there” would have to be all about Him and not me.
He wants you to know the same thing! He wants you to shed your doubts and insecurities, so that you can see Him. Don’t take your life for granted. See the gifts He has freely given to you, and accept them as so. When you do, your life “…becomes a gift back to the Giver.”
And just to start my 1000 Gifts list…
I’m grateful for…
- Interruptions by my children…
- God’s times of cleansing my spirit…
Come back soon. I will be sharing more about She Speaks…
* After learning about some concerns about Ann, I CANNOT recommend her books or studies. Yes, I did get a lot from her speaking engagement that day, as mentioned above, however, I’ve never read or purchased her book. Her poetic, flowery writing style was at the core of my refusal to buy it at the conference.
I will say this: Ann has a lot of charisma, powerful words to say, and experiences to share, but what is concerning to me is what was revealed in One Thousand Gifts, about her view of God. Here is a link to a review of her book by Bob Dewaay: http://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue120.htm .
A brief excerpt:
“Let me state this clearly: Ann Voskamp has written a book sharing her pain and offering help through her discovery of eucharisteo_ (to give thanks). She chose a literary style that I and other reviewers found difficult to work with, but the style she chooses is her prerogative. Where her work warrants challenge is in her reliance on panentheism, romanticism, sensual language and those whose viewpoints she approvingly cites. What follows is my evaluation of Voskamp’s contribution, and, through my analysis I intend to protect her readers from the errors she has introduced.
We live in a postmodern theological age where the sensual and mysterious have replaced the rational and cognitive; where many churches promote the idea of worshiping God with all five senses; where feelings trump clear Biblical exegesis, systematic theology, statements of faith—rational approaches to Christian theology. Into this milieu comes One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book that takes romanticism to a new level, using sensuality to invoke religious feelings and, ostensibly, true devotion.1
Voskamp weaves a tale of discovery, finding devotion to God through encounters with nature and art, and in her experience, uncovering the secret to joy through what she calls eucharisteo_ (“giving thanks” transliterated from the Greek).
Begrudging Voskamp her religious feelings is not my purpose here, nor is disagreeing with the basic thesis that Christians ought to give thanks to God in all things. But I do object to the panentheistic worldview Voskamp espouses in the book and the accompanying romanticism. First we will explore panentheism and romanticism to show why these ideas are of concern.”
This addendum has been a long time in coming (over two years), but I’m glad I took a few minutes to add this bit of info to help my readers make informed decisions. In this day we live in, Christians need to be careful, mindful, and watchful.