smudges of grace

Ash is falling like confetti from the sky this evening, almost a celebratory reminder of nearby bush fires. Watching the sun make its descent as a smoky red orb in the horizon, all 103 children lined up by house ready for dinner. Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness all present.  Love and Self-Control there too.  The bell rings, they run, clean hands waiting for their food.

Today I heard whispers of discontent.  Some grumbling in the camp about breakfast porridge.  So I tell a story tonight of another group who grumbled at their situation and walked for 40 years in the desert. Grumbles became giggles as they knew they had been found out.

Complaining is a good way to get stuck in a desert of our own making.

New family rule: anyone who complains has to find three things to be grateful for and say them out loud on the spot.   Hmmmm.  Wonder what it might be like if we all tried that one?  Complaining, discontent is one luxury we cannot afford these days, any days.  Not if we want revival. Not if we want all He has. Complaining blinds us to His grace.  Gratitude is a discipline we must cultivate.

Seeing our family listening to my dinner time sermonette, my mind flashes to a time nearly five years ago of sitting in the red sandy dirt of Mozambique.  Missions school class being held under a green and white striped tent flapping in the breeze, the cerulean indian sea our surreal backdrop.  The happiest, most joyful man I have ever seen steps up to the front and begins to speak.  The ground shakes with his humble authority.  The ground in me shakes as he radiates Jesus.  He graciously offers us a key to unlock revival: radical gratitude.  Supresa (Surprise), his very name echoes the desire of heaven: to surprise us with God’s goodness many times over every day.

Tonight I was preaching mostly at myself.  Really, I was.  Somewhere in the last 4 and half years of dust and desperation this revival key has grown a bit rusted over in my heart from lack of use.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I celebrate every victory, every breakthrough, every provision, every healing. But that is almost a given, isn’t it?  I am truly thankful, but most days only normally so.

What would it be to intentionally celebrate every moment as a gift?

This year I am taking a dare from heaven to dive into radical gratitude, to retune my awareness to catch theophanies covered in dust.  I am keeping a visual journal of sorts of all the things I see Jesus in on this unpaved road called my life: all His whispered gifts and graces, supernatural, ordinary encounters from another realm.  (Mom, get ready- I am raiding your magazine stash come April 😉 )

My journaling habits have all but fallen off the map of late.  I used to write every day moments captured in lines and arcs.  Now I barely can answer email effectively.  103 kids tend to do that to one.  I need a restart and this seems a good one!  I must make space in my crazy world for stillness.

Barely a week old, this journal is already a book smudged with the fingerprints of grace on this bumpy ride into His heart, my life pressed between its pages.

Might I dare you to do the same, embrace the grace-smudged adventure of cultivating radical gratitude and recording the moments He meets you in?  His gifts to you may become the most important gifts you will ever have to give away.