Just a few weeks ago I was able to connect with the remarkable Ann Voskamp to record ten programs for Discover the Word on her book The Broken Way. (See link to listen in at the bottom of the blog.) As always, she impacted me deeply. And then - oh! - this precious friend agreed to share her written words with my dear Really friends! Read on and consider what it might look like for you to live "given."
What's Even Better than a Bucket List
By Ann Voskamp
Cruciform self-giving is the distinctive dimension of holiness.
I'd been dangerously anemic for weeks, feeling like I was a wet sheet of paper and the story was falling apart right in the middle, right where things were supposed to get exciting.
Out my bedroom window, the rain's coming straight down on the farm like an honest pouring. Another doctor's appointment in an hour to stick a needle into the bluing vein and draw out the lifeblood to see if there's enough iron in it. No surprise there, really. That my blood would lack the element required to produce steel. I keep praying like a fool that the cross on my wrist - its iron is seeping into me, its strength forming me. Any kind of love that lacks the iron of the cross in it is anemic love.
Keeping ink on the nightstand can be a kind of curative, my intravenous needle to remember the eucharisteo every night and send a bit of the thanks into the blood. And, now to ink a cross on my wrist every morning to remember the koinonia, to draw cruciform communion from my believing head to my forgetting heart. This cross is a sign of my believing, that I am "called into the koinonia of His Son, Jesus Christ." I know this. The eucharisteo precedes the miracle, and the miracle is always, always koinonia. But maybe I haven't been living it long enough yet?
Wash my paling face at the bathroom mirror. The woman in the mirror is a wide-eyed deer caught in the headlights, life running her down, and she's desperate to know: How can you believe there is enough in you of any value? How do you believe there is enough of you to live given - and be wanted?
The wheat in the fields needed this rain that's sheeting down like some upstairs plumbing let loose. The sky slides down the windowpane next to the bathroom mirror like something a bit busted.
I need these questions, need answers to fall, to grow something in me strong enough to withstand this broken life. If I want to truly Give It Forward Today, if I want to be the gift, don't I have to believe there's enough in me that's a gift to give forward? Maybe we believe in Jesus; we just don't always believe in Him working in us.
The cold tap water feels good splashed on my face, running down my neck. It feels strange, even wrong to believe He could find any value in my tarnished brokenness. But didn't He, somehow? Didn't He believe it was worth redeeming, renewing, resurrecting, to make all into more than enough, in spite of my brokenness and through it? That cross on the wrist, wasn't it a sign of Jesus' believing? Isn't the cross a sign of Christ believing in us, believing that the busted are to be believed in? Which feels unbelievable.
The slowing rain seems like a bestowing, belief growing.
Lotion massaged slowly into dry and chapped palms. Rubbed into the broken creases across the backs of my hands. There was what an Orthodox Hasidic rabbi had said on a flight westward. He'd put his prayer shawl in the overhead compartment and sat down, sweeping aside the tassels dangling from his pockets. And somewhere over the mountains, the light thick above the clouds, the rabbi had turned to me, mid-conversation. "Why do you people always say it's about having a strong belief in God? Who sits with the knowing that God's belief in you is even stronger than yours in Him?"
I'd put down my Styrofoam cup of black coffee and tried to read the rabbi's face. He'd leaned forward in his seat and tilted his head so he could look at me directly. "You may believe in God, but never forget - it's God who believes in you."
He looked out the window and pointed. "Every morning that the sun rises and you get to rise? That's God saying He believes in you, that He believes in the story He's writing through you. He believes in you as a gift the world needs."
God's mercies are new every morning - not as an obligation to you, but as an affirmation of you.
Was I living my life like I fully believed that?
Ann Voskamp is the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, and the recently released, The Broken Way. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places. Millions do life with her at her daily photographic online journal, one of the Top 10 most widely read Christian websites: www.annvoskamp.com
Listen to Ann Voskamp on Discover the Word.