Ann Voskamp and I.
I don’t know that we could be more different.
She grew up on a pig farm in Canada.
I grew up on the south side of Chicago.
Her desire is to “die where she was born”.
I have recently moved to my sixth state.
Her writing is described as poetic as she presents gifts of bouquets that cause women to slow down and smell the roses.
I am more of a “box of chocolates” writer – you never know what type of mood you will get.
Of course there is the obvious- she’s white. I’m black.
But, in our current climate, when differences in opinion, status, race, political stances and beliefs are tearing apart churches, families, communities…the nation, it is imperative to be reminded of our unifiers. That is what I believe Ann Voskamp does in The Broken Way, A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.
She reminds us of our unifiers…
Jesus… who died on the cross for all of our sins, did not qualify His willingness to do so based upon a person’s nationality, gender, class, color or if we deserved it – “while we were yet sinners, Christ died.”
Our only requirement for acceptance into the family of God is faith, alone. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten so that whosoever believes on him shall not perish or have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
Brokenness… can come in the form of a lost job right before the holidays. A mother weeping over the loss of a child. A wife mourning her husband. A people attacked by their own leader. A years-long prayer, still unanswered. An illness unhealed. A loved one choosing a painful path. You choosing a painful path. Brokenness comes in different shapes and sizes, appears in different circumstances and lasts for different lengths of time, but everyone experiences it. No one is exempt.
You may remember, I was on the launch team for The Broken Way and have processed it over the last few months. Various situations seem to point me back to her words. As I read the news, and hear of the things that are breaking the hearts of those around me, I am reminded that what Ann has done is show how our Jesus meets and answers our brokenness, and how we are used in the process.
We are often so concerned about self-preservation that we often miss the blessing in being broken and given to others. She calls it to become “cruciform” “to let your life become shaped like a cross…to become more fully human…most fully like Christ.” You know, the Christ who left the comfort of heaven, and considered equality with God something not to be grasped, but humbled Himself. The One who knew He would be rejected, still choosing to die for the good for the rejecters. The One chose to die, because in His death He would bring life. Cruciform.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Ironically, it is the death that allows for communion, for fellowship – koinonia – to stand side by side with another. I remember that it was in one of the darkest seasons of my life, when I chose not to hide behind fake smiles, and rote platitudes, and decided to be “real” in the struggle, that I experienced some of the most life-giving relationships. It is also because of that time that I am able to encourage others who find themselves in similar straits. Giving up one thing – be it pride, privacy, comfort, material things – somehow seems to make room for others. I cannot explain it, nor do I understand it.
Have you noticed how givers seem to be much more content than hoarders? Have you met those who give the little they have without worrying about whether they will lack? Have you examined their relationships? Both the depth and the breadth?
Who are people often drawn to? The authentic ones, the honest ones, the ones who give of themselves – their time, space, energy, honesty, their hearts.
Those who give their lives for the good to of others- not out of obligation, or because they are forced, guilted or bullied into it, but because it is who they are, because they love others.
They choose to Be the Gift.
These days seem to lend themselves to more and more brokenness. And many of us, seem to be scrambling more and more to preserve what little semblance of comfort we think we can create in order to avoid it.
Let me help you – we can’t avoid it. Brokenness will come. Either you will be broken, or someone you know will be.
It’s because this world is broken – from your home, to the one next door, the community in which you live, to the one up the street, Any State, USA to Aleppo. Broken.
But, God gives His followers a unique opportunity in the midst of the brokenness to experience communion – with Him as we join what He is doing – with others as we help bear their burden (because one day they may be the ones to help bear ours).
We can be the gift – in immediate ways such as leaving dollars near the toy section at the dollar store (as Ann shares in her book), to buying a meal for the person behind you in line, to giving a coat to a child, to sitting with a friend who is in a hard space, or being a voice for those whose voices are silenced. Or in ways that require planning – giving to an organization, taking a trip to help those in need, moving to an area that need the hands and feet of Jesus. Opportunities abound.
So as we approach Christmas, let me encourage you to consider that perhaps what is more important than buying the right gift, is to “Be the Gift.”
For many, this time of year is tremendously difficult (I know, I have been there). If you are currently in a season of brokenness, please run to the One who knows what it means to be fully broken. He knows. What do you do with your one broken heart? Ask Him to provide ways you can somehow bring life to others in the midst of whatever type of death you are experiencing.
For those who are not in a season of brokenness. Give God thanks for the reprieve. And ask for ways to leverage your current state for the healing and life of others.
May God’s grace be with you.
*as part of the launch team, I was given a copy of the book for review.
*this post contains affiliate links*