This is part 5 of a study looking at the book “Anything” by Jennie Allen. Click here for an index of all the posts in this series plus other posts on the topic of Surrender.
Praying and offering God “anything” is something Jennie Allen likens to jumping off a cliff into deep water. There is a feeling of “fear mixed with adrenaline mixed with nausea”. “It feels as though we might die if we jump”…BUT…“on the other side of the pain is freedom, peace, joy, hope…and how we were made to live.”
In this section of the book she writes about the freedom that follows from surrender. She quotes A.W. Tozer who said that once we exalt God to his right place in our lives “a thousand minor problems will be solved at once.”
This doesn’t mean that everything in our lives will magically sort itself out when we surrender to God, just that certain other things that would have bothered us in the past will seem less significant if we are truly putting God first.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that life should be easy and comfortable and pain-free, to back away from anything that is difficult or that challenges us, to think that if we are obeying God things should fall into place, and that if they don’t then we’re mistaken about what God is telling us to do. Jennie Allen is clear: that is not how it works.
It makes sense. As I look back over my life, it has definitely been the difficult times that have drawn me closer to God. I have found it far too easy to try to manage in my own strength when life is going well, but the times of trial and suffering have been when I have known my need for God, and drawn close and found him. It’s still somehow hard though to step into something that I know is going to be hard and which will mean losing control.
The book looks at the example of Mary- how she embraced God’s plan, despite the difficulties it caused in her relationship with Joseph and to her reputation with other people. Mary never sought her own comfort or felt that she was entitled to an easy life because she was obeying God, but rather she rejoiced that she had been chosen to be part of God’s plan and looked on it as a great blessing.
The exciting thing is that as we surrender to God it impacts other people. Jennie Allen describes it as dominoes in a matrix. As one little domino falls it causes another to fall, and another, and another…
Everyone’s call is different. They are not all fancy or flashy. But as we obey God we encourage others to do the same and we get to be part of his plan and probably have more impact than we realise.
During the first few weeks I read this book, I feel like I was trying to understand surrender more, weighing up the cost, working it through in my mind. Over the last two weeks I have reached the point of actually doing it. In this chapter it is suggested that you make a list of different things in your life under various headings and that you pray and surrender these to God.
I have been doing that this week, and, while the fear remains, there is also a sense of excitement about what God could do. There is also a sense of freedom in that the more I can genuinely hand things over to God the less need there is to worry about them. Instead of trying to fix certain situations myself I’m handing them over to God and waiting to see what he will do. I’m still definitely a work in progress in this, but I can see that I am making progress and it is good.
It is also challenging. I feel like God is bringing up a couple of areas where I need to deal with things that will be painful. I know it is for the best and that the freedom that will result will be worth it, but that doesn’t make it easy. However, once things are surrendered to God they shouldn’t be taken back, and above all I do want to play the part he has for me in his plan.
“We don’t want to get to heaven and realise we missed it, that God rerouted around us.”