Monday, May 21, 2012

Anything - A Review and a Giveaway

"We will do anything, God. Anything."

That could have been my quote, but it isn't.

Like Jennie Allen and her husband, Cory and I held hands in bed in the dark, breathing life past the rumble of fear in our gut, and prayed something like that. I think our paraphrase was, "We'll do whatever you want, God. Whatever."

All we knew was, God was moving. And it felt like the very first time. We didn't know what we didn't know, back then. We had no idea what it might mean and it scared us sideways to wonder too hard.

Those words we prayed out loud. These, we kept hidden on the inside, "Please be merciful. You might not know this, but we're both introverts, so nothing too crazy or outlandish. Also? We're accustomed to living a certain way. We aren't flashy people, so maybe we could keep what we have. Maybe it's not too much." We pulled out the famous, "Giving time can be more sacrificial than giving money". True, just like eating the chocolate with the strange orange cream filling can be more satisfying than the caramel. "Anything is possible. Sign us up for time, God! But please remember, we have small children and Cory works long hours. Keep that in mind, please and Amen."

The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk. - Jennie Allen, Anything

The months that followed were uncertain and stomach-churning. We moved and stalled. We never knew more than the very next step. We were scared and insecure. We battled selfishness and pride. We mourned for the things we had loved more than God. We felt a new kind of loneliness. We watched tender shoots of brand-new courage stake their claim.
I cried on the bed, the floor, the couch and in the shower. And just standing there, in a room. Oh, and in the car.

Suffering affects my life for eternity in a positive way. I've never lived that way. I've lived trying to fix everything hurting in me with counseling and a good latte. And while none of that is bad, it never fully worked. I still hurt. What I wasn't told is that it is supposed to hurt. War isn't supposed to feel easy and comfortable and happy. - Jennie Allen, Anything

And with every single tear, God became more of a Father. Scratch that. I saw more of who He already was. I felt it first-hand, for once.

The ironic thing about believing in God and supernatural things is that the invisible stuff is actually the most trustworthy, the most stable. So the concrete things we can see and touch, they become the wind, they become the things we try to catch, and over and over they pass through our fingers and souls, keeping us empty. But when I take my empty self to God, he feels familiar and stable and more like concrete than wind. - Jennie Allen, Anything

Reading Anything, by Jennie Allen, was like reliving all of those moments in slow motion and with the bonus feature of a very well-spoken and entertaining narrator. Through her words, I processed things I was too numb to notice at the time.

I originally thought we were going to have to be such martyrs, to suffer for Christ and pour out our lives unto death. I was wrong. He was desperately pouring himself into us, his joy and passion, sustaining us each day with peace  that he was real and we were exactly where he wanted us. God had wanted our hearts, not any dramatic sacrifice. These weren't radical sacrifices, just simple obedience. We were just following an all-knowing God whom we completely trusted. And it was all turning out to be fun and full of life and joy. - Jennie Allen, Anything

It's immensely encouraging to know that we aren't the only ones being tossed overboard. It's comforting to see that maybe we aren't complete weirdos for loving the ride, even the plunge-down parts.

Maybe it's already obvious, but I loved every word of Jennie's book. Her writing is clear and engaging. Her tone is humble. Her words are raw. Her heart is Christ. Several hours and my purple pen have sealed our fate - she's one of my people now, and she doesn't even know my name.

If you are anywhere close to the edge of this journey, Anything is a must read. As such, I would like to personally bestow upon one of you my very own copy, much dog-eared loved and broken-in, so very ready to fall straight down into your soul.

Everyone else can buy it right here.

Leave me a comment and I'll draw a winner...sometime....soon. Don't fence me in.