Camille Corot, 1854
In the last week I've come across the themes of obedience, suffering and trust in three different places. I'm always pleasantly surprised when these connections happen and I'm grateful I've gotten into the habit of having a number of books on the go at the one time. It really does help these connections to happen organically.
I've been reading, very slowly, through One Thousand Gifts after starting it earlier this year. Ann Voscamp bares her soul in this book and I've been savouring what she's written about so honestly - the pain of her childhood experiences of loss, her struggles to trust in God's goodness and her journey of gratitude.
This week I read these words:
The practice of giving thanks...this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see.
This living a lifestyle of intentional gratitude became an unintentional test in the trustworthiness of God - and in counting blessings I stumbled upon the way out of fear...
Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God?
The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Sratton-Porter
I've just finished this book and will write about it more fully later but I wanted to share this quote which relates to obedience and how our decisions in this area don't just affect our own lives.
"Don't!" cried Jamie. "Don't be bitter, Margaret. We don't know why, we never can know why things happen in this world exactly as they do; but this we know: We know that God is in His Heaven, that He is merciful to the extent of ordaining mercy; we know that if we disobey and take our own way and run contrary to His commandments, we are bitterly punished. And it is the most pitiful of laws that no man or woman can take their punishment 'alone' in this world. It is the law that none of us can suffer without making someone else suffer, but in some way it must be that everything works out for the best, even if we can't possibly see how that could be when things are happening that hurt us so..."
This third place where these three themes were expressed was this article I read on Sally Clarkson's blog. Sally speaks about the example of a mentor/an older, wiser woman, and the encouragement she gained from her life:
“But it is what you practice, day after day, that builds your integrity, your character, your strength, your message–what you do when no one is looking.
And so this is the place I became spiritually strong. God gave me a testing ground for my soul–this place of being faithful, generous, loving even if I received nothing in return.
This place of difficulty became my greatest lifetime glory. Never underestimate the hidden, unseen acts of obedience.”