It was a huge treat to drive to Toronto two weeks ago with my mom to hear Canadian writer Ann Voskamp speak. After reading One Thousand Gifts and years of her blog posts, it felt like going to meet a friend.
One Thousand Gifts has a simple premise: give thanks. Thank the Giver, and you’ll draw closer to Him. On Tuesday, she described this process as vertical—a line to heaven—a connection between us and God.
Gratitude can change hearts, but it’s not enough. Highlighting only blessings doesn’t give a full picture, which is what Voskamp began to realize when her kids said, “Why does the house always look so good on our blog?”
Working through that led to her new book, The Broken Way. It’s the horizontal line, as she describes it—the other arm of the cross. It means being honest that we’re broken and sharing our hope with a broken-hearted world, as Christ did.
“You’ve been given all of this. What are you doing with it?” Choosing Christ means being willing to lose everything else. How? Sponsor a family. Help new immigrants. Foster a child. Bring the hope of Christ to a hurting world. “There are broken hearts beating and bleeding within your reach.”
One generation ago at Christian women’s conferences, main speakers were more likely to talk about personal faith, parenting and marriage. (Am I generalizing? if you think so, let me know!) My sense is that today, we need Ann Voskamp’s wider view: she challenged every woman at Church on the Queensway with nothing less than changing the world. “We are the Esthers in the palace,” she said, “put here for such a time as this.” I appreciate that scope. At the same moment, there was the Voskamp family, filling the whole left front row.
Her call to all Christians is this: “From flat screens, from flat faith, from flat-line living – to cross-shaped thinking, cross-shaped seeing, cross-shaped living . . . the world can transform into the form of something beautiful everywhere our paths cross.”