To start the new year off right, I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and it’s teaching me a lot about counting my blessings on a daily basis, and how that directly produces joy in life. I will probably blog about the book when I am done because I’m finding it life-changing, but for now I want to write about something else that the book prompted within me.

Ann is an unbelievably good writer. In my opinion, she stands way far apart from the vast majority of writers I’ve read. How so?  Well, for starters, she doesn’t interpret everything around her through her natural, myopic, micro-level perspective.  Rather, she takes it all in through a faith-infused and Christ-centric worldview. She sees God palpably at work in her experiences – both the mundane and the magical – and her words so vividly describe the details of her life while as the same time providing her viewpoint of those details through God’s eyes. Second, she seems privy to so much more than the rest of us. It’s like, God lifts the veil for her, and reveals to her special, unique insights that largely escape you and me (which reminds me of The Matrix).  She sees with spiritual eyes, and is given discernment and wisdom that simply does not come from her own mind. And she is gifted (by Him) with the ability to see connections, relationships, symbolism, and metaphorical parallels that are really incredible and otherworldly. And what she notices (and writes about) is what makes her so special, and what feeds back into her spiritual life, which of course shapes and improves her unique and incomparable perspective even more.

It’s like, God lifts the veil for her, and reveals to her special, unique insights that largely escape you and me.

I want that. I want that so badly.

This is the reason why Ann is such a good writer, and why she is set apart. And what I have been thinking is that this ability – this gift – is rooted in her cultivation of a deep, verdant relationship with her Lord. Over years, over decades. Through tons and tons of time spent with Him, doing life with Him. And I should point out here that she doesn’t live in a convent or abbey, outside of the hustle and bustle of life as you and I know it. She is married with six kids and works with her husband on a huge farm. She’s constantly busy. And I can relate to that. But she pulls it off, she stays linked up to Him, rooted in Him. And she maintains and protects and refines her perspective, holding off and fighting off anything that might compromise it or ruin it. And that gives me hope.

I want to change people’s lives with my words, with the words He gives me to share. And with this new year upon me, I wonder – okay, might this be the year? Is this when something epic finally happens with this blog, with my writing? But now I am thinking – or, rather, being reminded – that there are no shortcuts and that I do not want to rush this. I want it to blossom from a seed, a deposit from Him and from Him alone. I don’t want it to be out of my own limited intellect and ideas. I know me, and my thoughts are not as high as His thoughts, nor my ways anywhere close to His ways. I’m not brilliant, but He is. And I want what I share to be brilliant, special, set apart, unique. I want them to be transcendent in scope, instead of worldly and narrow-reaching and largely ineffectual. Honestly, I know that if it comes from only me and my human brain and incomplete perspective, it will be pretty anemic in its effect, influence, and reach – at least compared to what God can do if it’s from Him instead.

If it comes from only me and my human brain and incomplete perspective, it will be pretty anemic in its effect, influence, and reach – at least compared to what God can do.

It is so clear to me that the best writers about faith and life are the ones who have walked the long, hard journey alongside their Leader, Forgiver, and Friend. And that remains their priority above all else, well above their writing goals or ministry efforts. Most of the time, I live that out, but sometimes I lose my way and focus more on the goal, the product, the fruit that I want my labors to bear. Right now, He is lovingly reminding me that it will come if my relationship with Him is the goal, above all else. What is more, He is showing me that such a relationship – and all He reveals to me because of it – will produce the joy, the satisfaction, the life to the full that I want, that I need, that I know is out there for me, and that I have known so well before.

I guess the bottom line, for this New Year – and frankly for the rest of my life – is that I want Him to deem me worthy of sharing with me the secret things.

The things of which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived (1 Cor 2:9).

The profound and hidden things (Daniel 2:22).

The great and mighty things, which I do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).

I really do understand it will only come through the relationship I am cultivating with Him. This is my heart’s desire. Way more than me writing about it, and inspiring others that way – although I will want to do that. Most of all, I just want to be close to Him, stay close to Him, and see and notice and interpret things His way, the right way. A new way, a fresh way, a non-derivative and eye-opening and hopeful and extraordinary way. Like Ann Voskamp does.

I hope this doesn’t sound too ethereal, too supernatural, too impractical for those who are reading this. I’ve done practical, and it is always restrictive and colorless, and doesn’t get me anywhere. I know God is real, that His promises are true, and that His ideas are the best ideas. And I know I can experience Him powerfully and profoundly in my life. Actually, it’s completely available to anyone who is interested!

I like to say that I want to live my life as a grand experiment of faith. The crazy thing is that I have never been let down in living this way. Ever. This is just one more experiment, and I am confident He will not fail to prove me right as long as I strive to keep my heart, my devotion, and my relationship with Him in the right place. One day of this new year at a time.

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