The Man Who Never Experienced God

My mom has told me a story over and over about God’s gifts of His grace and I want to share it now because finally in my own walk I see the light.

There was a man who lived his life without seeing God, hearing God or even feeling like God knew he existed. He never experienced God in his whole life. He died and went to heaven and was being led by Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus, and Peter took him to a storehouse full of gifts. The man asked Peter, “What’s all this?” Peter replied,” It’s all God’s gifts to you in your life that you didn’t receive. God’s grace toward you. You never opened even one.” The man looked with amazement and wished he had paid attention to his life! He wanted to go back and live fully, live the life Jesus promised us through our faith in Him. But now it was too late, his life was over, oh how he wished for a “do over!” The good news is this: You, who are reading this story, you still have time! You can start receiving your gifts of grace right now and the first one is God’s gift of Jesus Christ. You have to repent, which means giving up your way and taking on Jesus’ way.

I am going to try to explain what has happened to me in the past few months that has led me to the full life in Jesus Christ. What I have experienced this past week is life changing. What I have learned made me remember this story my mom told me many times and I never understood it. I never understood what the gifts were and how there could be so many! I realized this morning that there are many layers to understanding something. I began writing The Changes In Me last November 2015. And I have updated my progress every month, The Changes In Me One Month LaterThe Changes In Me Two Months Later and The Changes In Me Three Months Later. Now in this fourth month God has shown me the answer to everything.

During this past month I have been on a search or quest to experience God in all the moments of my life. I have tastes of His presence and it’s so good that I never want it to end. I was drawn to frequencies and thought that was how to experience God all the time, if I was on His frequency I would feel Him. I thought learning Hebrew or Latin or learning how to sing the Gregorian Chant would bring me closer to Him. I bought a lot of books to help me figure this out even one on prayer. If I could pray enough, pray all through the day I would experience Him. None of this is the answer. Now I know when I sing to God in praise I feel His presence but I can’t do that all day, it’s unrealistic. We do have lives to live and responsibilities. What I wanted was to feel His presence ALL THE TIME. I even finally resorted to believing that it’s impossible to “feel” God all the time. I was starting to believe what religion says that you can’t feel God all the time. That we live by faith and not feeling which is true to some degree but I needed more. One of the books I was led to buy was Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. I was also led to do her Lent devotion Trail to the Tree. The timing of doing the Lent devotion and then when I actually got the book was unbelievable! What I was reading in the Lent devotion was setting me up to receive the book. Even through all the searching before, God was preparing me to read this book. She has a lot of similarities in her book to what God had been showing me.

What Ann asks in her book is, do you want to come to the end of your life and realize you didn’t live fully? That you were empty the whole time? My answer was a definite no. I had already been searching for the full life! and now could I actually have the answer right in my hands? The answer to everything?! She explains that she was on a dare to write down 1000 things that she loves. As she did this she realized she was writing down God’s gifts to her. She discovered a word eucharisteo, which means grace, thanksgiving, joy. She learned Jesus practiced this. Jesus has shown us the way to a full life by His demonstration of thanks to God before anything He did. Ann says the miracle always comes after the giving of thanks. By writing down what I notice that I love I am actually receiving God’s gifts of His grace toward me. It’s His love for me transformed into something I can see, feel, touch. This awareness and the naming of the moment causes the moment to become holy. Through these gifts recognized I am experiencing God. I am receiving His gifts by writing them down and thanking Him by acknowledging these moments as gifts of grace. It brings great joy to do this! I know it’s hard to believe but it’s real and I am experiencing it. You have to read this book and practice this to know what I mean. There was a dream I had recently about grace also. I told my dad that the hardest thing to learn about salvation is grace. I woke up wondering, what does this mean! Ann has answered it! By thanking God for the moments, the people, the things that I love as they come into my life I am learning grace! The practice of this is learning grace! I have done this for almost one whole week now and last night the story my mom used to tell me came to my mind. It finally clicked! The gifts in the storehouse were all the moments, people and things God gave him that he didn’t notice! All the ways God tried to communicate with him, to get his attention and he never got it. Because he never noticed, he never experienced God. His life was empty.

This practice has opened up a new life to me! I used to think when my mom told this story, ” What gifts?” “What exactly is grace?” I know the Bible says it’s God’s unmerited favor, but what is it tangibly?  Now I know and when I told her today what I have learned and now I know what the gifts were in the storehouse we both cried tears of joy!

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A Full Life or Long Life?

Which would you choose? This question came to me this morning as I was watching the Today show they were talking about eating to have a longer life. This struck me because I have been reading 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and she talks about living a full life. She contemplates dying and when we actually get to that point, are we going to feel full or empty? I really loved how she put it. Now when I see something about living a long life I wonder which would really be the best? In my own opinion I think living the full life long would be the ultimate life but if I had to choose I would want the full life. If life was empty, then a long empty life would just be miserable.

You may want to know what a full life looks like. As Jesus said, He came to give us life to the full. I have really meditated on that verse in the past and now Ann has revealed the key to unlocking the full life. It’s gratitude for everything you love. It’s not just feeling the gratitude but writing them down. Writing them down gives the moment a space, a sacred space that is a gift from God. This is what Ann talks about in her book. She says writing them down is the actual receiving of the gifts. She emphasizes to carry a little notebook with you which causes you to be aware of life happening and write them down as you go. I started this today and already have over 30 gifts! She says we hurry through life and miss the small stuff which is really the big stuff. We don’t pay attention to what really matters and to what is right in front of us. God is in every moment if we will just recognize Him there. When we do this we are living each moment to it’s fullest. We have given the moment a name, we have made the space in the moment holy. This is all God wants, communion with us and this is how we do it. God’s presence is the answer to all our longings, all our emptiness. Instead of filling the gaps with “things” we need to fill the gaps with thankfulness and recognize the gifts God is continually giving.

I know myself that I have lived some empty life. I can’t get it back but I can vow today to live a full life. I refuse to get to my dying day and wish I had lived more fully. This is the answer to not being afraid to die. When you know without a doubt you lived fully in God’s presence, you know without a doubt you will live in His full presence in eternity.