Oh, Father, I prayed, please remind me of the ways your grace is showing up in our lives. A year or more ago I drew a picture of Jesus and me, while a group of women in addiction recovery around me scribbled their own, each of us trying to express something that is hard to put into words: Where am I at with the one who calls me Beloved?
I drew the most elementary of stick figures, me leaning back straight, and Jesus—well, Jesus was carrying me. I no longer had strength to stand. I couldn't manage much forward movement on my own. As I would write later, he would have to take it from here.
Part of me wishes I could say life got easier after that, and that I eventually drew another picture of Jesus and I hand in hand, walking chummily through life. But, alas, no: Jesus is still carrying me. I'm still unclear on the future as far as permanent ministry is concerned; I watched another birth mother pass us over for adoption of her baby in July; I heard a few weeks ago that our book publisher—the one we worked so long and hard to get our book published through—is closing their doors on December 1, just 9 months after our book was finally published. (The process took us 4 1/2 years total.)
So I think it's fair to say I'm no longer the girl in search of "clarity" on her spiritual journey, whatever that means. I am searching for sustenance and the words of God that declare me his Beloved and for the next open door, but I have realized that God hasn't promised us clarity. I am seeking, instead, what it might look like for him to be present in all of this.
And just as I was sniffling this morning from a cold, I sat on my couch and asked God to bring to mind the ways in which we are graced, blessed, and cared for. And my mind was flooded with images, with gifts of grace:
- A book club that enters into deep theological discussion and questioning and also cares deeply for each of its members, reflecting back the love of Jesus for fellow-journeyers.
- A recent Reclaiming Eve retreat in which women of all ages spoke of being set free to be the strong power and image-bearer representative of God they are each created to be.
- A friend who so feels for us on the journey that she sent me a grace-filled book, right through amazon, and followed up with an email asking how she could pray for us.
These gifts, though they may not number 1,000, are just the beginning. So it is that I've decided to post a reason for thanks for each of the 30 days in the month of November.
Because I believe gratitude makes room for the gift of his presence, and that it reminds us we are all needy, every one. And that being carried by a generous and gentle Shepherd might actually make our brokenness a gateway to the next gift. Will you join me?
Come back Monday for #1-#7 on the gratitude list, and please know you are invited to add your own giving of thanks.
Your turn: If you drew a picture today representing your relationship with Jesus, what would it look like? And why?