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Returning Love

Ann Voskamp's final chapter in One Thousand Gifts is entitled The Joy of Intimacy.  She talks a lot about having an intimate love relationship with Jesus.  Have you noticed how the Scriptures are full of language that reveals an intimate relationship with God? God uses Hosea as an object lesson to show how Israel's relationship with Him is often that of an unfaithful spouse, yet he tries over and over to win them back.  Ezekiel 16 talks about how God rescued Israel from her helplessness and filth, loved her as His bride, but she ran from Him.  Several times God refers to Himself as "Husband".  And we are all familiar with the picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ.  These are intimate pictures of God's relationship with us. 

Ann Voskamp writes, "...[P]racticing eucharisteo was the very first I had really considered at length what God thought of me -- this ridiculous and relentlessly pursuing love, so bold.  Everywhere, everything, Love!
   "Giving thanks awakens me to a God giving Himself, the naked, unashamed passion, God giving Himself to me -- for me-- a surrender of love."  

Giving thanks opens my eyes to see the Love of the Father, the love of Jesus.  I don't know about you, but all this talk about God as my lover makes me a little uncomfortable.  It almost seems....blasphemous.  And yet, God is the One who Himself painted that picture, as seen in the examples above.  Ann Voskamp writes, "...[R]eal communion terrifies.  And who wouldn't cower at the invitation to communion with limitless Holiness Himself?  ... Yes, God as partner shocks and I'm too ugly, spiritually, physically, too filthy, too...low to be courted by God and He lavishes His love, the uncontainable riches, and can I trust His love and part of me is right anxious to flee.  Yet I am haunted.  Only the overwhelming meeting gives the fullest life; the holy and hallowed communion.  Do I know what that means?"

Monday -- The bougainvillea on the side of our neighbor's house (we share a compound) are in full bloom.  I'm thankful for the burst of colour at this dry time of year.  We may not have crocuses, lilacs, or lilies, but we've got bougainvillea!

Tuesday -- Working on a doctorate is a lot of hard work.  Especially for the doctoral candidate, but also for their spouse!  I'm thankful that John is so organized.  He's got lists of things he needs to do hanging on both sides of this cupboard in his study room.  If he weren't so organized all of this would be even more stressful!

 Wednesday -- We cut back some bushes that had gotten way out of control.  This one is starting to grow back and came out with these beautiful flowers in different shades of pink.  I'm thankful for more "Easter flowers"!  Come to think of it, maybe God romances us with these beautiful bouquets....just to win our heart with a bouquet of flowers that He made!

Thursday -- I was sitting at the dining room table working for John, thinking about this stack of dishes I needed to do....and wishing I didn't have to.  And yes, complaining about it.  When I remembered, serving is how we live the liturgy!  Be thankful for the food we partook from those dishes and serve joyfully by cleaning them up.

Friday -- What a great week to contemplate what Jesus did for us....what amazing love is that!?  Friday evening we had a service at church.  We had been encouraged to fast during that day and then to bring fruit to the Friday service to break our fast together.  The chairs were arranged around a center table.  One end was the communion table and the other three sides were for the fruit.  After some singing and a short message we had communion.  Then we shared the fruit together.  After that we washed each other's feet, another act of service, of living the liturgy.  I am thankful for Jesus' love, for His death, and also for the brotherly love we share together as a church.  I am also learning to give up my western way of keeping things moving and to just relax.  At first I was frustrated that there were only two basins and it took a really long time to wash everybody's feet.  But then I remembered that the point was that we were spending time together in fellowship.

Saturday -- I went outside and looked up to see this chicken hawk on the neighbor's antenna.  It was hard to get the focus just right, but he sat there posing for me while I got the picture right.  God's love shown through such amazing birds like this that He created is another love gift He gives to us.

Sunday -- Il est ressucite!  He is risen!  Thank God for the power over death....that Jesus is alive....that He's my Bridegroom....that He loves me and wants intimate communion with me.  These are just a few pictures from our Easter celebrations this morning....sunrise service, breakfast, and church service.


"I could bless very God.
   "Not take anything.  Not ask anything, demand anything, petition anything.  I could simply give something to God.  A gift to Him!  Like He had given one thousand, countless gifts to me. This I could do!" -- Ann Voskamp

"This is the one gift He longs for in return for His unending gifts, and this even I could give Him, and anywhere.  Anywhere -- in the kitchen scrubbing potatoes, in the arching cathedrals, in the spin of laundry and kids and washing toilets -- anywhere I can have intimate communion with the Maker of heaven and earth."

What does He want in return for all the love, all the courting, all the showering of gifts on us?  He wants us to thank Him, to love Him in return,and to live in intimate communion with Him.