Born to Wander Review

Book Review: 

I’m reading Born to Wander by Michelle Van Loon and she brings the wonderful reminder that we are all pilgrim travelers, with a clear purpose, a secure identity, and a safe resting place in God.

“Wandering” has been defined as “moving from place to place without a fixed plan; roaming; having no permanent residence” (dictionary.com).

I’m not one to move about. I would say I have a permanent residence as we have lived in our current home for twenty seven years now and have no intentions of moving. Yet I have been on a pilgrimage my entire life, as have all of us.

We are each set out on this pilgrimage from the day we draw our first breath. Every twist and turn of the road is meant to be a powerful compass directing us back to the place which is truly home.

Jesus unsettles us, nudging our souls from the comforts of home.

“He [Jesus] is calling us to un-settle and embrace a life of pilgrimage. He modeled it for us as He journeyed to the cross. Those who are settled and comfortable have no real incentives to follow Him. Nor are those who’ve wrapped themselves so firmly in the identity of exile they’ve learned to live in a bunker and sought salvation as a way of avoiding a world they don’t particularly like. (page 14)

But as author J.R.R. Tolkien noted. “Not all those who wander are lost”. Michelle Van Loon also observes, “You were born – and born again – to wander.”

She leads us through eleven chapters of “wandering”, each chapter bringing to life the story of pilgrimage in Scripture. She shares stories from her own life, transparently, to illustrate the common roots found in our wandering.

She closes the first chapter with an insight and question designed to pull the reader into this most thought provoking book:

“The ache of being uprooted is designed to graft us into the One who made us. Uprooted-ness is an uncomfortable identity and not one most of us would choose for ourselves.

Early church fathers said the state of humankind was that of the homo viator (traveler, pilgrim). We have been born to wander. The questions of where we’re from or where we’re going are clarified by this truth. They become: “Are we moving toward God or wandering away from him!””

The book is beautifully written, explaining Jewish terms often hidden from those without a Jewish heritage, bringing the familiar stories of the the Israelites and their wilderness wanderings to life with new insights.

The idea of wandering continues into the lives of believers today as well. Jesus invites us each to journey with Him:

“He Himself is on the road we travel and is our companion on the way. And He is our destination, calling us to come to Him.

We were born to wander, but we are born again to wander home.”
(from page 173)

*I was provided a copy of this book by Moody Publishers for review. All opinions are honest and my own.