A few months ago, I bought a book someone on twitter recommended called Anything by Jennie Allen. I’d never heard of Jennie, but her work was very highly endorsed by Angie Smith and Jen Hatmaker, two bloggers/speakers who I just adore to pieces, so I thought Jennie’s book would be a worthy read. I read the first chapter, enjoyed it, and promptly lost it in the mess that is my car.
Sidebar: If you have ever driven anywhere with me, you will understand that, while I am a well-intentioned driver and generally a tidy person when it comes to shared spaces, I am not a naturally neat person in private spaces. I’m not filthy, but what’s a few pairs of shoes and a scarf and a water crock and stand from when I moved in April? Krista’s car: eating books since 2004.
About a month ago, just before I went to Women of Faith Anaheim to see Jennie and many other amazing speakers do their thing, I found her book (it was in the empty crock from the water container I mentioned above. My bad.). Thanks to some truly horrific weekend traffic (four hours to drive 90 miles? THANK YOU, LOS ANGELES, FOR YOUR AWESOME ROADS AND DRIVERS), I was actually able to read the first two chapters while I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic and more red lights than I thought was humanly possible. I was totally blown away by Jennie’s book and was a highlighting fiend. When I met her during the conference, she flipped through the book and even pointed out my highlights. So yeah, it was a pretty powerful read for me. It’s full title is Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul. I loved it because it reminded me of my own life-changing prayer: “God, change the parts of me that need to be changed.” I was in an Anything kind of mood.
And then I quietly forgot everything I learned. It wasn’t intentional, but I just got caught up in life. It was craziness after my job at the college ended and then I got sick thanks to the stress of leaving my job. I also moved, ramped up my involvement at church, and attempted to spend more time with my sissy girl. It was just sheer craziness and easy to forget some words on a page, no matter how highlighted they were.
Fast-forward to a few weeks later when I was texting my new roommate Monica. We have only been friends since July, so we’re still getting to know each other. Nothing like getting to know someone by throwing yourself together with her in the same home. Trying to be funny, I sent her a text that read:
I’m like a gremlin. Don’t let me get hot, hungry, or tired.
This is a pretty decent trifecta of what makes me miserable. And all three together? IT’S UGLY TIME. Any two of these things makes me exceptionally cranky but three is asking for you to defriend me in real life.
A few days later, Jennie’s book came back into my mind. I was praying to God to use me for anything He saw fit and I had this horrible thought hit me in the face like a hammer, and I felt instantly sick to my stomach.
What if my anything meant I was going to be hot all the time AND hungry more often than I liked AND I’d be tired, too? What if? It’s a scary, gross though to me. I can handle one of those things at a time in moderation. But what if God’s plans for this life of mine go beyond what I think is comfortable for me? What if I pray, “God, I don’t want to be those things, but if that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it for You; if that’s what it takes, then use me in those areas” and He answers back and says, “I might” or even more horrifying — “I will”? I am selfishly scared to admit that is the response I fear the most.
In Anything, Jennie writes about our need to die to self. At one point, she writes,
But God often seems unconcerned with helping us maintain the same, simple lives where everything fits and works. I don’t know what God’s plans are for you, but I do know that we don’t hear from him until certain things die. He doesn’t compete. And when he does speak, it typically costs something.
What if He speaks and it costs me my “rights” to be cool and well-fed and well-rested? What if He says, “Krista, I am calling you to go to somewhere warm where you’ll be sweaty and flushed and your belly might ache from emptiness sometimes and you’ll go to bed tired and wake up tired but through it all, it’s Me you’ll get to share and it’s Me who will get you through it?” I want it but I don’t. I am fearful of what it means if I give up those comforts I’ve “earned.” I forget that in getting and giving Him, I must give up Krista. I am what His voice costs, all of the parts of me who long for comfort and prosperity in my safe little Camarillo home.
I don’t often feel like I can give these pretty jewels I cling so tightly to up. I feel weak and unprepared and ill-fit for every calling I feel and hear in my life. In the Bible reading plan I’m currently doing, I just started reading 1 Corinthians and was struck, not for the first time, by what Paul writes in the first chapter, verses 26 – 29:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
I might be hot, and tired, and hungry, but God won’t let me become a Gremlin. I am His foolish thing and weak thing and His base thing and through Him I will become strong for His glory and His gospel. I know that. And yeah, maybe it will be hard and it will feeling like suffering. But I’m reminded as I leaf through my already dog-eared copy of Anything that it’s okay to suffer for Him:
God has bigger purposes in allowing us to suffer, bigger than just winning. He allows us to suffer because we changes through suffering. We hurt with others better. We become humble. We want him more.
It’s not without cause. In any potential suffering God has in store for me, I will become more Christ-like and loving and compassionate and experience grace to a degree I couldn’t do without giving up my anything. And as Jennie also reminds her readers, to give Him your anything has meaning — it’s not for naught. She says, “But practically speaking, he’s going to do something with my life when I give it to him. He has a plan for it. It is not a meaningless sacrifice.”
Oh Jesus. I want to sacrifice it all for You, even when it’s hard and scary and I am seriously petrified of what that means. This life is your life. As my favorite blogger Angie Smith wrote today:
I shape the letters of your life. Look around at the beautiful and splendid things, and write them.
Your job, love, is not to create the story.
It is to turn each page and listen.
Believe that it is all worth telling.
I know the truth underneath this, after all.
You are my Author of Life. You have written every word of my story and you know the chapters to come and how it ends. I want to finish strong for you, Lord. So use me and do anything you need me to do. It might take me a few tries, Lord, but I will do it. Let me let go of the fear and the plans and dreams I have made for myself. Some you might give back, and some you might not. Change my heart, Jesus. Change me so my dreams are of You and Your kingdom and Your glory. Change my heart so it sees and seeks eternity.