Anything

This post is the first in a series reflecting on the book “Anything” by Jennie Allen.  I’ll be posting on this each Monday throughout February and March.  It is also part of a wider series on “Surrender” which is the word God has led me to focus on for 2016.  For an index of other posts on this subject, click here.

“God, we will do anything.  Anything.”

This is the prayer that Jennie Allen prayed along with her husband- a prayer surrendering everything to God.  Her book tells the story of how she reached the point of praying that prayer and how it has impacted her life.  She encourages others to follow suit, acknowledging that surrender is costly but identifying it as the path to freedom.

“The prayer held in it a thousand little deaths.  In saying, “Anything,” we were handing him everything.”

The first part of the book explores the barriers that keep us from surrendering to God.  The chapters I read this week look at three of these: unbelief, pretending and shame.

Unbelief is a barrier because to be able to surrender everything to God we need to see him as he is.  Jennie talks about the concept of “plastic gods”– that it is easy to believe in God when life is good without truly knowing him or understanding who he is.  There is a particular danger for people who have been brought up in Christian families that they accept the idea of God quite happily, but without really knowing him or seeing his relevance for their lives.

God becomes real when we have to depend on him- when we hold to his promises and see him come through, when we step out and take a risk, trusting him.  Then we don’t just know about God- we actually know him and experience his faithfulness.

I am fortunate in this that God became real to me at an early age and that through difficult circumstances I learned to turn to him and depend on him, but that’s not to say unbelief is not an issue.  Jennie points out that “every sin, at its root, is based in something we do not fully believe about God.”  I know that I struggle to fully trust and surrender to God so this made me ask myself: What faulty beliefs do I have about God that mean I want to be in control, rather than trusting God and letting him take control?  I don’t have an answer to that yet, but it is something I am reflecting on.

The second barrier to surrender is pretending.  Instead of admitting our need for God we can try to cope by ourselves.  After Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover themselves with leaves, and we can do the same with leaves of religion, morality or being good.

It is easy to focus on our outward behaviour and looking good to other people.  It is easy to look at others and compare ourselves- to judge others and think that we are better than them, to think that we can work hard and be good and it will all work out.  We don’t want to face ourselves as we are and we certainly don’t want others to see us as we are, so we hide.

“Pretending to be good halts God’s movement in our life.  Legalism or religion helps us feel better about ourselves, puffs us up, gives us the posture to be critical and judgemental and prideful.”  Yet Jesus came for the lost and the broken- the people who were aware of their sin and saw their need for God.

This chapter also challenged me.  Outward good behaviour was highly valued as I was growing up and there was definitely a temptation to hide and pretend and make things look good on the surface, when I knew the reality was different.  It is also easy to think because I try to be good and try to work hard and care for others and do my best that I am doing better than other people and that somehow it’s enough- but it’s not.

“The Gospel of grace fights every piece of pride in us.  When God gives us grace, he is also taking something from us.  He takes our control.”  We are not able to earn righteousness.  There is nothing we can do to fix things ourselves.  We have to acknowledge our need of God.

Again I am grateful for the difficult experiences that have shown me very clearly my need for God, for the fact that I was able to draw close to him through them, and that I have always found it much easier to be honest with God than with other people.

The third barrier to surrender is shame- because we are ashamed of ourselves or of our sin we can hesitate to draw close to God, fearing his anger or rejection.  “We’re afraid he’s the mean teacher from second grade, but instead he is the safest place we’ll ever be.”  By bringing ourselves and our sin into the light we can experience God’s love, forgiveness and restoration.  Instead of being dragged down by the weight of our sin and shame we can let it drive us to God.  Repentance can feel like death, but it is the path to freedom.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  (1 John 1:8-9)

As I reflected on this week’s section of the book and on God’s character and grace I realised that the only suitable response to that is surrender.  It is a high cost, but considering everything he has done for us, it is not unreasonable.

Join me next Monday for part 2…

…And you may not all appreciate this, but I have had this song in my head every time I think about the book so I feel I have to share it! 🙂

linking with Literacy Musing Mondays and Tell His Story

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “Anything

  1. What a good book to digest and think about. I look forward to hearing more. Your post made me think of yesterday evening when I took a 82 year old friend visiting with me. We stopped by a woman’s home who is recovering from cancer treatments. This wonderful older woman opened up and announced she was not pretending anymore. She said she didn’t know Christ and wondered if we all were also pretending. A really good discussion happened and she taught me so much about speaking the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how heart-searching your post is, Carly. It gives me pause for reflection. This question you asked yourself struck me – “What faulty beliefs do I have about God that mean I want to be in control, rather than trusting God and letting him take control?” Because of past experiences I have many faulty beliefs about God and trust issues. It’s better than it used to be, but there is still something that scares me about completely surrendering to Him. I enjoyed the song, and it makes me pray that I would really feel that in my heart when it comes to God. Blessings and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Trudy. It is giving me a lot to think about- I’m glad it’s speaking to you too.
      I think putting past experiences behind us and working on trust issues is a gradual process. Like you, I am making progress but it does still scare me at times.
      Praying that you continue to know God’s healing and to go deeper in trust and surrender to him.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like this book is reaching you right where you are! We’ve got plans to use it for our summer Bible study book. I’ll have to stop back at your blog in the next few months to read your other thoughts on the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carly, I’m joining you today from #TellHisStory. I just finished Jennie Allen’s book Restless. I love her writing style -simple to read, yet deep truths! Like you, my one word for 2016 is surrender. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. I will need to add it to my growing list of “must reads”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ellen. This is the first book of Jennie’s that I have read but I’m enjoying it so far. It is easy to read but very thought-provoking and challenging. I’m excited to hear that your word is surrender too- I haven’t heard of anyone else with that word yet. Thanks for visiting!

      Like

  5. I loved the book “Anything” so reading your words here came as a beautiful reminder of how to give our lives fully to God. I love that you are sharing your reflections on this book. We can learn so much from reading about other people’s experiences. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our woman’s bible study is also doing this book and it fits in perfectly for my season of life. I knew I have been in a season of waiting but never really thought that i needed to surrender myself to Him. I have read this book in the past and didnt get much from it but this time around it’s a perfect fit.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s