My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
A weaned child no longer demands his mother’s breast. He is now content just to be with her. I have learned the secret of being content, Philippians 4:12. This is tied up in identity. We search for it and search for it, demanding that we find it. But the world is too big, and we can’t do it all, see it all, be all things. The man who looks in the mirror but walks away and quickly forgets what he looks like (James 2:23-24) is us when we don’t let the laser-sharp lens of Scripture penetrate our hearts, for only God can tell us who we are. Instead, we give it a quick glance and then go back to the frenetic pace of our lives, all the while letting the enemy dissect us into little pieces, when our true identity is in the whole.
I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and it is opening my eyes to eucharisteo, to thanksgiving. Why had I never heard of this wonderful book before? All I know is that the Lord put it in my hands at the huge library book sale, tossed on a table amidst hundreds of books. Long ago the Holy Spirit had highlighted for me I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray continually, in all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. I knew this verse was important then, and I truly was thankful. I continually thank him for the way he’s restored my life.
A year ago when I was struggling with missing my family, a friend gave me a gratitude journal, a book of empty pages for me to write down five things every day to be thankful for. I wrote down the usual for a while—Jesus, my husband, my family, my friends, my health—but I didn’t understand the farther reach this practice was intended to take until I started reading this book. I didn’t understand looking for God’s gifts of grace in the day-to-day, moment-by-moment of living.
Ann Voskamp points out that thanksgiving is what connects us to the divine. Stopping to name what God has given us opens our eyes to his presence in thousands of different ways. Things I had rushed by are now in clear focus, from the smallest to the greatest, the ways God shows me he is with me every moment (e.g. the joy of gathering pecans dropped from our trees, my first cup of hot coffee in the morning, holding hands with Mark in the mall). I’ve taken up Ann’s challenge to list one thousand things for which I’m thankful. I’ve always known that life is intended to be experienced slowly, deliberately, intentionally, but it’s taken a lifetime to put it into practice.
I don’t concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. I’m in process of letting go of all that was not appointed for me. I’m opening my eyes to what God has appointed to me, the things for which he truly made me to walk in, the way that I have been designed, the way that only I can reflect that part of him. It is for freedom that I have come to set you free, Galatians 5:1, (freedom from everything that hinders your receiving my love). Stand firm, then, and don’t let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. This is my life verse. The Lord continues to reveal what slavery looks like in my life, past and present. But maybe the most important aspect of slavery is not living in the design that God created uniquely for each of us.
I see a woman in labor, body furiously working to expel the new life within her so that it can live on its own. I feel that so much of my life has been labor with all the enemy has thrown against me to keep me laboring. Yet when God in his mercy says, “It’s time,” that new life is born and can breathe in the life God intends for it to have. The enemy would have all of us stay in labor our entire lives, pushing, pushing, pushing. Our identities in Christ have to be disentangled from all the bondage that hinders us from being truly who we were created to be.
Much healing has taken place, and I know more will come. I felt a huge shift when the Lord healed my broken heart (from leaving my children and grandchildren to move to Texas) so profoundly with his Word. That healing, which I will write about soon, has remained. But I have calmed and quieted myself. I am like a weaned child with its mother. Like a weaned child, I am content. Although I will miss seeing my family, I can celebrate Thanksgiving in Texas with Mark and dear friends and not feel pain that I’m not in Arkansas for this holiday.
It’s now clear to see that thanksgiving and contentment go hand in hand. It’s saying, “Yes, Lord, I agree with your good and perfect plan for my life right now, for this moment.” So though it may sound kind of odd, this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for……thanksgiving. I’m thankful to be learning what that word truly means: peace, contentment, continually dwelling in the presence of God. Yes, Lord, teach us all how to live as weaned children, content in your presence, wrapped in your love.