It’s been 126 days of a never-ending beginning……..a washing away of an ungrateful heart. 126 days of seeing with clean eyes…….eyes that were caked with a fearful substance that kept me from ever really seeing God and knowing my Love, My Father. And I had no idea.
And this writing is just the beginning.
Several friends had recommended the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp to me a while back but I had forgotten. While we were in the US this summer I knew that God was taking me to a new place with Him. I am so grateful for the friends that journeyed with me, cried with me and for me and covered my heart in prayer. I thought that THAT was the work…..that I was restored and refreshed, ready to head back into the difficult work of our new calling. I began reading 1000 Gifts on the plane ride “home”; the plane ride away from my first-born daughter and her new life in college to the rest of my life in Chiang Mai. It was an “ugly-beautiful” pain as Ann would say. I felt His nearness to her and to me and I was blessed. I felt confident in what He had done to provide for all of us in this transition. I was on a mountaintop……He was preparing me for a valley.
At first, counting graces in my everyday life felt effortless. I love to journal and I didn’t find it difficult to keep my list going. But as life does, things around me started to change. Struggles amplified and I couldn’t fix things I thought I knew how to fix. So I prayed more and tried harder. Kept on making my list. Not much changed. My efforts were not improving things. I dug deeper into myself and claimed Scriptures and found Him to be very near. I kept counting gifts….and my heart was hurting. Wasn’t He going to come down and pick me up or take away the difficulty? Surely there was going to be some unbelievable, miraculous ending to the struggle that would vindicate my pain. Why wasn’t I overcoming? Why couldn’t I just figure this out? The harder I tried, the less control I had. And my strength waned until it barely flickered. I was a wreck. I was embarrassed about the conversations I was having with God. So immature in my mind. I was a mature believer, wasn’t I?
The act of giving thanks moment by moment led my heart to see myself. My frustration wasn’t in a lack of being able to say “thank you” for lots of good gifts in my life but that I was ungrateful in the core of my being. I lived ungrateful. And not for all the goodies I already had….but rather, not grateful for HIM. I mean not grateful for the Gospel. For my salvation. For being LOVED by Him, through Jesus, for His Glory. For being Accepted, Forgiven, Redeemed, and Treasured–all by “the Lord, the Lord God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in LOVINGKINDNESS, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin, and yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished; visiting the sins of the fathers onto their children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7
God is LOVE.
I was ungrateful for His great love! And at the core of every other sinful pain in my life is the rejection of the Gospel. Rejection. A conscious decision NOT to believe. I know what scriptures say, but really, how could God love me? Isn’t this Satan’s same old lie? The lie that God isn’t really who He says He is? He is Lord, Creator, Redeemer….maybe He feels sorry for me so He saves me. What a blasphemous thought? When did I start living like someone unworthy of His love. Like someone defeated and afraid of everyone else who seems to feel so loved. When did that fear teach me to be good; perfect even, even perfectly humble? As a way to earn love. Because I crave lovingkindness. I need to feel redeemed from all my sin. I just don’t believe God does that. That is so personal. So intimate.
So in this way He shows me my adulterous heart and I die a little bit more and wonder if there is hope at all at this point. It isn’t a quick moment. He is slow at amputating this UNBELIEF and leaving me “laid bare”. And I am bleeding. He is so very near but I am still bleeding. For days I pray and ask questions and He keeps answering but it takes me so long to really HEAR Him. “You must believe me, Kristi. I will not let you keep living as if You are not loved. It is for My NAME and My GLORY that I love and you will not rob me of any of that Glory”.
And that is where I am today…..
Not finished. Not fixed. Not healed…..yet. But RESOLVED TO BELIEVE. It is decided and I will fight this fight for belief until I don’t live another day. I choose to reject all the reasons why I could feel unloved–my past, my lack of self-confidence, my need for words of affirmation. All of mankind’s ways of dealing with our inadequacies and struggles in a way that is all about me. But it is about HIM and His great love! And I choose to believe Him. I choose to believe the Gospel. His Story for His Glory.
And I pray you will too. In whatever circumstance you find yourself today–whatever struggle besieges your heart, I challenge you to ask Him to show you if you have any unbelief about who He is and what He says about Himself and about us, His greatest creation. He chose us, adopted us. He paid for that adoption with His own Son. What else do I need to know in order to believe He loves me? It’s a choice.
126 days of counting to 1000.
1000 graces counted and the best saved for last……
1000. Being LOVED!
By: kristi hambrice