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I’ve had this book on my shelf for a really long time – so long that I couldn’t even tell you how long. So long that they’ve even revised it and updated the cover! It’s one of those books you’re not sure you want to read. You’re curious, but you have trepidation. It’s called Anything. Need I say more?
Any guesses on what this book by Jennie Allen is about? You hit the nail on the head.
It’s about the time Jennie told God she was willing to do anything for Him. I take that back. It wasn’t about the time, it was about a lifestyle change – an attitude change – and how it all worked out for her.
And lest you think that Jennie is some unbelievable person with already-built-in courage, here’s what she said: “I can barely obey God without thinking, What will it cost me? I don’t want to think that way. Left to myself, I am just that selfish. I want things. I want comfort and fun. I don’t want to suffer. I want things to feel in control. Today I don’t want to be typing and studying about God’s glory – I’d rather be at Target or on Facebook.”
She’s just like you and me. And I like that about her! It helped me want to finish the book even though I was afraid it was going to be all conviction, conviction, conviction. Ha. I’ll go ahead and tell you up front that, PHEW, it wasn’t as scary as my mind had built it up to be. I should have read it a lot sooner! It was a good mix of Biblical conviction and inspiration and motivation.
Judge for yourself …
Here are 8 things I learned from the book Anything:
1. Truly knowing our beautiful and terrifying God is what makes us willing to do anything for Him.
It’s that truly part.
2. Being willing does not alleviate fear, and that’s okay.
Jennie says, “I had prayed the prayer of ANYTHING as though I were about to launch on a ride at Six Flags, my eyes closed tight and fingernails digging in. I was so afraid. I can just imagine God thinking something like, Thanks a lot, Jennie. Great. You’ll be used by me, but no one else will want to ever be, because you are making it look so terrifying! But on the other hand maybe he was thinking, I love that she realizes she is going to need me for this. I have; I do need him. He has stretched me to the places where fear should be paralyzing me, and yet I am okay.”
3. ANYTHING sets us free. (the exact opposite of what we think)
When we’ve got our lives in our gripped hands and we consider handing them over, most of us get that feeling – fear mixed with adrenaline mixed with nausea. It feels as though we might die if we jump. But when Jennie prayed ANYTHING, what she feared would bind her actually set her free instead. She said, “It stung like death, and it still feels like death, but that feeling is the key turning in the lock. On the other side of the pain is freedom, peace, joy, hope, the loss of control, and it is how I was made to live.”
Read #3 again!
4. ANYTHING takes time.
Without the Spirit of God to lead our anythings, we will only be do-gooders with our own agendas. Jennie prayed anything, but it was over the course of months and years that her anythings were revealed. We need to wait for the Spirit to tell us what’s next. This is not easy, but it is pretty simple. Keep seeking to truly know Him and His will.
5. God is ridiculously radical.
He is serious about us not loving anything more than we love Him.
Luke 4:8: And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
Luke 14:26-27, 33: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
I like how Jennie paraphrased these verses: “Until this life gets small, really small, and I get big, really big, you won’t truly follow Me. Because loving this life too much will affect your love for Me. It also will affect what you are willing to do for Me.”
6. Mary prayed ANYTHING.
Mary’s high calling was a costly calling, and it came with tremendous suffering. She faced the rejection of her fiance, persecution from her community because of a seemingly illegitimate pregnancy, the pressure of raising the son of God, and ultimately the pain of watching Him die a humiliating and excruciating death. All of this lay ahead of her that day the angel came, yet the first words out of her mouth were …
Luke 1:38: And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Her true belief in God was evidenced in the denial of herself. The consequences of obedience paled in light of her God and her calling. Mary never sought her own comfort. She lived entitled to nothing. She expected suffering rather than being surprised by it.
7. Radical acts are not the goal.
Throughout Scripture trusting God was pretty intense. Sometimes it required near insanity. Moses raised a stick over the Red Sea; Joshua told everyone to walk around a wall seven times and then scream and blow horns; David picked up stones to kill a giant; the disciples waited on a Spirit to fill them before they did anything. All of it took an almost silly amount of faith in God. Yet the radical acts were not the goal; the goal was – and is – the trust, the love, the relationship. A love so big that it comes with a willingness to hand over our lives.
8. God is still not very practical, and to follow him takes trust.
Following Him completely requires belief that He is good even if everything here and now is not and that he has an intentional plan for our few years here. We trust in Him to lead us to do spiritual things that may not totally make sense.
Which brings me to my most recent Anything.
On Monday I will be leaving on a mission trip! You may remember that I wrote about a big decision HERE and gave a hint about it HERE. Today is the big reveal! And just so you know, I made the decision a while back – long before reading this book. But the book certainly confirmed it!
This is not my first out-of-the-country mission trip, but it is only my second. The first was to Brazil and included my husband as well as lots of other people. We went door-to-door sharing the Gospel and it was wonderful. This trip, on the other hand, is to Cuba – exactly one week after our President’s Cuba speech. And I won’t have the security of my husband with me this time. It’s going to be all God this time.
Exactly how He wants it.
He is serious about us not loving anything more than we love Him.
1 Corinthians 2:2-5: For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back!
P.S. It would mean a lot to me if you would pray for us – and more importantly, for the hearts of the Cuban people we will be sharing with. Thank you, thank you!
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