the wound is where the light shines through

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Advent Day 9

“When you are brave, you give yourself the gift of facing and touching the torn places. The places where we’re torn to pieces can be thin places where we touch the peace of God…
What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart.”
Ann Voskamp

“A prison cell, in which on waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When have you seen God take what was torn and turn it into a gift? I’d love to hear your thought

*All quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

 

 

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Love came down

Advent Day 8

“Sometimes you’re just the most tired of trying to be strong…When you are wrung out, that is the sign you’ve been reaching for rungs. The work at the very heart of salvations is the work of the very heart of Christmas: simply rest…
The wonder of all this – God looks at you at your lowest and loves you all the way up to the sky.”
Ann Voskamp

“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas,
When it’s mighty Founder was a child himself.”
Charles Dickens

How would your perspective on the dailyness of life change if you could see that here is holy?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

“to provide” means “to see”

Advent Day 7

“You don’t need to climb mountains named I Will Perform.
You don’t need to climb mountains named I will Produce.
Every mountain that every Christian ever faces, the Lord levels with sufficient grace:
The Lord Will Provide.”
Ann Voskamp

“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burn offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place [Yahweh-Yireh] The Lord Will Provide. 
Genesis 22:13-14

Name the ways God has provided grace for the gaps in your life.

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

oxygenated grace

Advent Day 6

“That ache is not the last word for those who believe God. Jesus is. Jesus is the last word, and we rejoice and rejoice again and re-joy again because grace is our oxygen now.”
Ann Voskamp

“You have as much laughter as you have faith.”
Martin Luther

What impossible thing are you longing for?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

all is grace

Advent Day 5

“Only when you first unwrap the gifts of blessings to you can you be wrapped up as a gift of blessing to others. Only when you are overwhelmed with the goodness of God can you overflow with the goodness of God to others…The greatest gift God graces a soul with is His own presence.” Ann Voskamp

“It is no use for  you to attempt to sow out of an empty basket,
for that would deb sowing nothing but wind.”
Charles Spurgeon

What are some ways you can be a blessing to others?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

Rise

Advent Day 4

“Every flood of trouble remakes the topography of our souls – making us better or bitter.
Every trouble is a flood, and we can either rise up or sink down… Grace – it, too, has floods of its own… The way of heaven comes down so we can rise.”
Ann Voskamp

Strange, this familiar Father of prodigals whose love, too much for one lifetime, will that we shall share the feast of forgiveness and joy in the epilogue of eternity.
Strange, this day of advent of EMMANUEL.”
J. F. Wilson

When have you felt flooded, overwhelmed by the waters rising around you?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

 

 

where are you?

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Advent Day 3

“We only find out where we are when we find out where He is. We only find ourselves… when we find Him. We lost ourselves at one tree [the garden of Eden]. And only find ourselves at another [the cross]. Wise men are only wise because they make their priority the seeking of Christ.”
Ann Voskamp

“When the year dies in preparation for the birth of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth, then saving and calamity go together make the Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break. Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.”
C. S. Lewis

What places deep within your soul do you long for the Lord to seek out during this season of Advent?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

ravished with wonder

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Advent Day 2

“You are made of the dust of this earth, and you are made of the happiness of heaven, and you are flesh and you are spirit, and you are of two worlds longing for the home of forever and Him. No matter your story before, this is your beginning now: you were formed by Love…for love.”
Ann Voskamp

“We must be sure of the infinite good that is done to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we may be ravished in love with our God and inflamed with a right affection to obey Him, and keep ourselves strictly in awe of Him.”
John Calvin

What does it mean to you that you were made out of the overflow of God’s love?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

God-glory breaking in

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Advent Day 1

“Just where you are, look for the small glimpses of God-glory breaking in, breaking out, sprouting, shooting, unfurling, bearing fruit, making a Kingdom, remaking the world.
Slow and still. And see the shoot that bears witness to God – the hardly noted child, the hymn hummed over the sink, the unassuming woman bent at the register the dog-eared
Word of God becoming from the shelf…This slow unfurling of grace.” 

Ann Voskamp

“The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”
Frederick Buechner

What are you waiting for, yearning for this season?

*all quotations and questions taken from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

farther up farther in

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Sitting by the ocean. A peacefulness I can not explain washes over me. Everything in the world quiets. In that moment of sitting by the water, staring out into the ocean, watching the waves roll in, smelling the salt air and the sandy beach, all the world seems to fade away. And I am lost. Lost at sea. It’s almost as if I have reached a tiny edge of heaven. I am getting a little glimpse into my real home. I am feeling it in my soul.

This came up while we were driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway a few weeks ago. How there are those places who just make every other place seem not as good. That make everything seem ok. That take your breath away with their beauty. Where an unexplainable peace presses down and surrounds you. The ocean, the mountains. Sitting at the top looking outward for miles. Seeing ridge after ridge after ridge. Glowing in blues and purples and bursting with oranges and pinks in the sunset. It’s like coming home.

It made me think of C. S. Lewis’ Last Battle. They all go through a tiny door into what they think is a stable but they step out into a beautiful land. And Jewel, the unicorn, is the first to realize where it is they have come. “‘I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we love the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this…Come further up, come further in!” (Jewel, the unicorn)

And this line “further up, further in”, is repeated many times through the last chapter. It was running through my head as we were driving the curves of the parkway. “Further up, further in.” A longing that on this earth will never be satisfied. But that doesn’t mean we should give up. It means we should keep pushing further up and further in. We should keep digging. Trying to find those glimpses of heaven. Soaking in the beauty around us.

Knowing that there is so much more waiting for us on the other side. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” And Mr. Tumnus said, “Of course, Daughter of Eve,” said the Faun. “The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.” I believe that in these moments of peace we experience while soaking in beauty around us, we are getting this imperfect glimpse, a partial and incomplete reflection of what our real life is going to be.

 

In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis dug even deeper into this idea. “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. . . .”

Is it a physical, emotional, or spiritual deepening? The desire to go further up and further in…I think it is all three. And because we were created for another world, we always have the desire. Some of us more than others. There will always be that emptiness. That hole. Longing to be fulfilled. We can try to fill it with earthly pleasures, but they will never satisfy. Or we can chase spiritual treasures, soaking in God’s beauty and creation, always trying to get further up and further in.

“The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

 “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis