The hour drive it takes to get to the lake on a Sunday afternoon, I think of the Sunday morning sermon.
The preacher was preaching pure gospel, how to be born again.
Twenty-five years he’s been preaching it in our little country chapel, to the hog farmers, the corn-croppers, the mothers with babies in arms.
How you can’t work for it, angle for it, or jockey for it —
You can’t earn God’s love. You can only turn towards God love.
When we all unpile, the little girls run and cousins squeal and holler happy at the water’s edge.
My mama and I stand there, toes in sand and the wind blowing back hair —
Our faces turned straight into the sun.
It’s the gift, that’s what the preacher said.
Salvation is the gift, the one wrapped in God taking on skin, laying His bare love out for the world, arms spreading to the very ends of the limbs of the tree of life.
There is their giddy laughter.
There is their young, wild running.
There is my mama smiling.
There is that singular sea gull writing across the sky. These are gifts. They beg praise to Him.
Holy joy lies in the habit of murmuring thanks to God for the smallest of graces.
Sure, I mess it up and gripe a thousand times, but just like you keep doing the laundry, you just keep beginning fresh again — The habit of thanksgiving is the one habit to wear for a lifetime.
And the thing is, really —
There is only one gift — the one ocean of Christ that falls as rain over us in a thousand ways.
Christ is the offering and salvation is the gift and repentance is what makes us recipients of grace.
Christ is the gift. Christ is the bridge Home. Christ is our joy. How can I forget this, ever stop giving thanks for Him alone?
Happiness is not getting something — but being given to Someone.
Communion with God is possible anywhere.