Monday, December 24, 2012

Learning Eucharisteo: Part 2 of 3

"I have learned to be content with whatever I have."
Philippians 4:11

     I ended the last article in my series of gratefulness with the question, “How do we give thanks and praise God for all the blessings He has showered us with?” Some might think, “Well, I’ll just say, ‘Thanks, God, for everything. Amen,’ and that should cover it.” While this is a plain (although somewhat childish) start, gratefulness extends much deeper than that. 
      But what is this eucharisteo word? In the original Greek text of Luke 22:19, when Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread during the Last Supper, “He gave thanks” reads as eucharisteo. The giving of thanks. The root of the word is charis, which translates as “grace.” “Joy” (chara) slips in as well. We see the grace God has given us, we thank Him, and we acquire joy. Eucharisteo
     As Ann Voskamp puts it in her amazing, life-changing book One Thousand Gifts, “Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle” (p. 35). Jesus looked toward heaven in John 11:41 and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me . . .” and Lazarus was miraculously raised from the dead (emphasis added). When 5000 stomach’s growled, “taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he [Jesus] gave thanks and broke the loaves” and the small lunch fed 5000 people, with some to spare (Matthew 14:19, emphasis added). When we give thanks—are truly grateful—God blesses us with the miracle of His holy joy. But in order to receive this holy joy, we must first give thanks.
     Being thankful is a conscious effort. When you say, “Thanks for everything,” you are consciously being thankful for three seconds, then thankfulness clears your mind for the rest of the day. It might pop up here and there, like when a neighbor gives you cookies, but it was looking for you; you weren't looking for it. 
     In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp discovers eucharisteo through writing down the blessings around her in a list she calls her “gift list.” She kept a little journal with her wherever she went. When I followed Voskamp's example of numbering my blessings, I always possessed a pencil and piece of paper in my pocket or purse. It may start small and easy, noticing the “big” blessings. 

1. A hot shower
2. Being able to read the Bible freely
3. Indoor plumbing (this is definitely a biggy)

    As I counted all the things I was thankful for during the days, I began to notice all the little blessings—seemingly insignificant details—with which God fills my life.

83. The earthy, green smell of dirt and garlic mustard (a kind of weed)
92. True laughter with my sister
133. Cardinal call in the trees
122. Clear, cool water in cupped hands
162. The warmth of a friend’s coat around my shoulders

I soon lost count and just jotted down the blessings, enjoying them and praising God as they came.

The rich, musty smell of old, crinkly, yellow-worn books
A mom who sacrifices her time and energy to help me
A safe drive home
The scratching, satisfying sound of pencil on paper
Body heat to warm up fingers

My scraps of paper quickly became over-creased and smudged from the many times I unfolded it, scribbled a moment of thanksgiving, folded it again, and slid it back into my pocket.

Over-creased, smudged paper from myriads of blessings

     God filled me with an unforgettable, ineffable joy as I perceived every detailed gift He had given me. I became more cheerful throughout the day; the boring, mundane things of life had enhanced into exciting and new, detailed and etched with heavenly blessings. I had never totally realized how deep and wide God’s grace reached. I was experiencing eucharisteo.
     Alas, when my family moved and life grew busier, my gift list dwindled and was opened and smudged less and less. I gave up my God-given joy for the stress and rush of this world. But God doesn't state in Scripture that life will be easy. He says to “count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2, emphasis added). “When,” not “if.” How then, does one count joy when trials come? That will be answered in my third and final article on gratefulness.


Author’s Note: I encourage you all to start your own “gift list,” read One Thousand Gifts, or better yet, do both. Voskamp's book is probably more enjoyed by women, as it is written from a woman’s perspective of life, and the style of writing is uniquely expressive. But both men and women can glean insight of true eucharisteo and find heavenly joy in creating their own gift list.

Sources: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp


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