Review: The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp
Are you hoping that Christmas will be something more this year? Not more presents, or more people, or more homemade cookies. But more meaningful?
You may have heard of Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts, or even read my review of it here. I felt that it was an insightful and very challenging book, and so I was thrilled when Tyndale Publishers agreed to send me a copy of Ann’s new book, The Greatest Gift; Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, to review for our Play Eat Grow readers.
The Greatest Gift is an advent book with 25 short chapters. Each one begins with a scripture passage, which is followed by some devotional thoughts, a call to action, and questions for reflection. Along with the readings come instructions for making a Jesse Tree (see Isaiah 11) so that you can celebrate God’s faithfulness not just through the Christmas story but through the WHOLE story of God’s word.
The book starts at the beginning, in Genesis, and moves through the Bible. Each chapter references a Bible story or prophesy, most of them familiar, and then ties that story to the Big Story of the Bible. To the story of Jesus, salvation, God’s plan, and the Greatest Gift. It’s like The Jesus Storybook Bible but for grown-ups. And it is powerfully thought-provoking and challenging.
About the story of Adam and Eve giving in to temptation in the garden, Ann writes,
For all the wandering, this is the first question of the Old Testament – God coming to ask after you. “Where are you?”…. And for all the wondering, this is the first question of the New Testament, when the wise men come asking, “Where is he?” (Matthew 2:2). We only find out where we are when we find out where He is. We only find ourselves…when we find Him. We lose ourselves at one tree. And only find ourselves at another.
Wise men are only wise because they make their priority the seeking of Christ. (p. 22)
It’s tough, especially has a mom, to have Christmas be about anything other than all the DOING. The cookies and the wrapping, the shopping and the people. It’s fun. It’s good. I work really hard to make sure that Christmas is a spiritual experience for my children. But sometimes I forget about me and what God might want to teach me through Christmas. The miraculous gets buried under the fact that the story is so familiar. But this is a book that brings out the miraculous. It encouraged me to think about what Jesus’ coming means for me, my heart, my hopes, my life.
About the story of Esther, Anne writes,
When you unwrap your worth in the Gift of Christ, you release your grip on all the other gifts. You are loved and carried and secure, and what else do you need when you have Him? You are free, free, to lavishly give away your gifts when all your value, worth, joy, and riches are in the greatest of gifts. (p. 81)
I hope that you will accept the challenge to make sure that Christmas this year is more about the Giver than the gifts, and I think The Greatest Gift can help you along that journey.
Curious about Ann Voskamp? Read about her crazy upside-down Christmas tree here! (I think my Jesse Tree is going to be right side up… and probably not even a tree).
This post contains affiliate links. Tyndale provided me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.