Book Review: Waymaker: Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed of by Ann Voskamp
Published in 2022 by W Publishing Group, Thomas Nelson
Summer often allows each of us a little spare time for reading, and even though summer is half gone, here’s a book that’s worth your time. Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite authors, recently released her latest book, Waymaker: Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed of. In my opinion, it’s her best book yet. It came to my attention at a particularly hectic and stressful point in my life—stuff going on personally, as well as a hefty assignment in my freelancing job world. This isn’t the first time that God has gotten my attention through a book; after all, I have spent the past 20-some years working in Christian publishing. But news of this one landed in my email and I immediately responded to order it. I haven’t been disappointed.
Who among us is not always looking for “the right way”? What I always like about Voskamp’s books is that she vulnerably exposes her own searchings and wanderings, allowing her life-journeying readers to readily identify with her on their own struggling travels without feeling judged or spoken down to. She is right there with us as we recognize our wrong turns and self-centered, self-righteous paths that we may find ourselves on. She sheds light right from scripture to help us better see our way, reminding us that the heart of Jesus is still very much for us. Her excellent practical and biblical advice gets us back in step.
The book’s stories describe Voskamp’s own personal experience as she navigated an international adoption while struggling through some difficult miles in her marriage relationship. Voskamp uniquely draws parallels between the fact that we as believers are adopted children of our Father God, and also that along with other believers, we are the bride of Christ—someday to partake in the ultimate of marriages.
Adam and Eve began their earthly journey in a beautiful garden where they daily walked and talked with God. Their disobedience shamed them in front of their Creator, so they covered their naked selves and hid from Him when He came calling for them at the usual time. We continue to be prone to their ways as Voskamp points out, encouraging readers to daily disclose the whereabouts of their hearts and souls to God, even though He of course already knows. But in saying “Here I am,” it causes us to reflect on anything that may be parting us from His company, things that may be intercepting our relationships with others, things that take us off in an opposite direction from His steadfast love, things that cause us to put out of mind His tender words to us, things that make us fearful. Our daily answer to our Master’s call, should be, “I’m here. All here. I am fully paying attention.”
Isaiah 44:22 says, “Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Our reflection of these words and our daily communion with Him then drives us forward, strengthening and energizing us as we forge on. Meanwhile, it pleases Him that we walk with Him, that we wait on His perfect timing, and that we fully trust Him. “There is no pleasing God without trusting God,” Ann writes. But often, instead of keeping our worship and trust on God alone, we place it instead on our relationships, expecting others to provide our hopes, to fulfill our dreams, to be our security. “Make an idol out of any relationship and you become a dysfunctional relationship of pain,” Voskamp writes.
“There is no such thing as salvation by romance, or by achievement, or by dream life, or by any good behavior or by self or by anything.” As Charles Spurgeon once wrote: “Make [God] the source, centre, and circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight.”
C.S. Lewis wrote, “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.” We won’t find anything in this world that can completely satisfy, even in the best of friendships or romances, without first realizing we were made to be loved by and to love God. Voskamp writes, “God is love, but if we get it turned around and make being loved into our god, we get lost in self. Death of self is always the pulse that keeps love alive.” It is so easy to get lost in ourselves and miss love altogether.
And that dying to self, that trusting God to lead the way, that is a daily union we must nourish, keeping Him in our hearts, our thoughts, our souls. By abiding in Him—listening to His Spirit which resides within us and listening to the words from His heart for us in Scripture. These, then, will transform our relationships with others. “When you’re all wrapped up in you, it’s going to be hard to wrap around someone else…. We are the happiest when we completely forget ourselves.”
The same can be said of our relationship with God. There must be daily abandonment to Him and His will:
“For your Maker is your husband—
The Lord Almighty is his name—
The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
He is called the God of all the earth.”
As sinners we so easily stray from this knowledge. “We may say God is our Father, the vigilant Dad who stands between the world and His kid like a protective old bear, teeth bared, but too often we live like He’s the lumbering slow Dad who’s likely hibernating. We may say we have safe oneness with God, but we live like he is the one who is unreliable….Do we [not] live more like God is a master merely interested in obedience from us, instead of trusting that God is a lover whose ways are all about forming deep attachment with us, covenanting to always suffer with us?....[We neglect to realize that] God’s wrapped round us in the middle of the sleepless night, and where we ache.”
Yet, like the children we are, we struggle to accept this and insist on our way, somehow thinking that way is the right way. Voskamp states: “There’s no praying ‘Thy kingdom come’ until you’re living out ‘my kingdom’s done.’”
Psalm 91:14-16 ESV:
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
While all this is so true, the way He leads is often through suffering. Our walking through the difficult places displays our love for Him, much like how we see His love for us in His suffering. “God takes us into Gethsemanes, literally, the place of the oil press, where the weight of the world presses down on us and our crushed soul becomes an oil that anoints the feet of Jesus with a love that says even if He doesn’t give our dreams, even if not, being with Him is enough.”
I have lived a whole long life and only in more recent years realized this. I have always been so easily distracted, easily taking my eyes off that suffering love for me. Voskamp writes about this, noting, “Where the mind stays, the trust is.” And then she adds something I have been using in my own prayer life since I read it: “Stay mind. Don’t wander off.”
Anxiety and fear are also obstacles that stand in the way of our communion with God. Voskamp reminds us that “all fear is me-centered. Fear is about losing what we love. Fear is love of self.” When we live with God as our center, knowing we cannot lose His love, knowing He alone is our safety and that we cannot save ourselves—therein is the way of peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Voskamp suggests a six-step thought process to not only begin each day but to keep reminding one’s self of it throughout the day, citing Scripture to help accomplish each step.
- Quiet my heart to know God
- Pay attention to hear God
- Completely surrender myself to God
- Look for what God is teaching me
- Examine myself and confess my sin to God
- Be thankful and praise God
There is so much more in this book that is helpful, encouraging, and feeds the soul that I can’t begin to cover it all. I hope you are seeing what I mean. One of the best things about Voskamp’s writing is the way she pulls quotes from Scripture and many other insightful and excellent sources. I’m closing with a favorite one of mine from the Heidelberg Catechism—a reminder, a summation of who we are in Christ. May we never forget!
What is your only comfort
in life and death?
That I am not my own, 1
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, 2
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood, 4
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil. 5
He also preserves me in such a way 6
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head; 7
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation. 8
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life 9
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him. 10