Thursday, June 1, 2017

A String Around the Finger

"The one who live her life in circles, discovering, entering into, forgetting and losing, 
finding her way round again, living her life in layers - deeper, round, further in.
I know eucharisteo and the miracle. But I am not a woman who ever lives the full
knowing. I am awandering 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 
again 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?" 
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 106 

The reason I need a book allowance is because I would kill one hundred sharpie pens a month, be responsible for the death and dismemberment of many of trees that come in the form of wide-ruled composition notebooks, and end up destroying my wrist for all the notetaking that would happen if I couldn't write in a book. And even though I do write in my books and I still take notes with sharpie pens in those composition notebooks, I feel that I am being more ecologically responsible than if I didn't.

When I read this paragraph yesterday, the entirety of it was underlined. It is the absolute reflection I see in the mirror through Ann's words. I forget, I lose my way, I know that in order to live the full life that I must give thanks for what I have, break it, give it away, and then wait for God to provide the miracle of His grace and deep joy that result. But I am the woman that forgets, a lot. I need to go out and get my manna everyday otherwise I would starve to death. Because the truth is you can't read enough of your Bible in one day to last through a week's worth of living. Too much happens, good and bad, and you have to be prepared. I truly do just need a little bit of coffee, but a whole lot of Jesus. Because without Him, the coffee won't matter much. What it can never do is cause me to feel alive or fully awake like Jesus can.

The concept of manna gathering, getting enough for today, is echoed in the Lord's prayer of being given our daily bread, but that's not where it started. It started in the Exodus, on the journey to freedom, heading towards the land of milk, honey, and inheritance. The place where God's provision is acknowledged, boundaries are honored, and frutifulness abounds. 

Like the Israelites, we all have a place that God has for us and a time in which we will occupy it. But we must not only be obedient in staking our claim on it, but we must be diligent in defending it once it is established. The problem we seem to face is in the conquering of our fears and enemies to obtain it. Why? Chronic soul amnesia.

See, God makes us promises and we want to see them fulfilled yesterday. And when there is a delay, for whatever reason, we tend to forget what He's already done and just how far He's brought us out. We really do want it all and we want it now.

But the thing is, we have great testimonies to hold on to beyond our own. Psalm 77:11-12 says, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will consider all Your works and meditate on Your mighty deeds." (emphasis mine)

Even when we forget what He has done for us, we have a record, 66 books long, of countless miracles, signs, wonders, works, and deeds to cling to. We may not know how or when our trouble will end, but if we can believe the parting of the Red Sea happened, we can believe that He can fully restore our relationships, mend our broken hearts, and deliver us from all manner of evil.

I don't know whether or not there is a cure for chronic soul amnesia, but it seems there is a way to minimize its impact. We have to gather our manna, every day. Think of this as the diet bread that makes you lose all the weight of guilt, worry, anxiety, and fear. We need to keep a record of the good things He provides and the crazy ways in which He manages to provide them. Especially the things that are the result of deep pain and grief. And when all hope seems lost, we must remember His miracles of long ago and consider all of His works. Because while Jesus was the one who was brought back from physical death, God has been breathing life back into metaphorically dead things all along. And if we can manage to start doing these things, maybe our dry bones will start rattling around and break into a beautifully choreographed dance yet.

Lord, for all the loves and passions You have put in my life, I am especially thankful for my love of written words. I praise You for the ways you have gifted Ann Voskamp to share her story, written by You, that have so lit a fire in me. I pray that You would spark something in each of us that calls us to remember all the things that You have done since the beginning of time so that we can combat the effects of chronic soul amnesia. We want to remember what You have done, we want to tell of Your great deeds, and we want to proclaim among the nations all that You are still doing today. We love You. Amen.

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