Good morning January 1, 2014! I woke up with the cold hanging onto my body with the grip of a dying man, fearing the unknown. I had forgotten it was January 1, until I opened my beautiful bible to Ezekiel 36:26:
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will remove from you the heart of stone, giving you a heart of flesh."
My heart has been slowly turning to stone. Last year kicked me in the butt and kind of wore me out. There was much to celebrate and enjoy, which we did. But the stabbing pains led me to slowly shut off my heart to others, a mode we call self-protection. I struggled to confuse my calling with my identity which brought me straight into battle with giving into ingratitude. Ingratitude. Is that not the catalyst of so many of my sins in life?
As I processed what I had read this morning in Ezekiel, I asked what a raw, gnawing, beating heart of flesh would look like. What would it look like for the year of 2014, to have a heart pumping with 3,000 stallions?
Our fall was, has always been, and will always be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other. Standing before that tree, laden with fruit withheld, we listen to Evil's murmur, 'In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened...' (Genesis 3:5). But in the beginning, our eyes were already open. Our sight was perfect. Our vision let us see a world spilling with goodness. Our eyes fell on nothing but the glory of God. We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see. And true, there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn't beheld, the sinfulness we hadn't witnessed, the loss we hadn't known.
-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
A heart of flesh. Jesus' heart was "flesh." The last night before He went to the cross, He did what? His heart chose to give thanks. What about Jesus standing outside of Lazarus's tomb, and John 11:41 reminds us of His thankful heart, "Father I thank you that you have heard me." And then a dead man rose. Thanksgiving raises the dead, turns a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. An empty, stiff cadaver surging with veins full of blood, arteries flushing with life. Giving thanks.
"How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?" Asks Ann Voskamp
The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now, through it all.
This year, I choose to give thanks. I choose to purchase that notebook I've been wanting and fill it with one thousand gifts of grace.