Sometimes, you read something that stirs your heart. The causes your soul to whisper, I want that. I’m ready for more. Take me deeper. The words are like encouragement from a dear friend and an alarm waking you from slumber, reminding you it is time to get up and get going, all at once. So you begin to strive and reach and chase after God with renewed fervor and desire. Because it is He who satisfies, who gives the more, who takes us deeper.
Anything by Jennie Allen is a book I read recently that did that for me; that caused that heart stirring and soul yearning. Now, this isn’t going to be a book review like I’ve written in the past. This is just the introduction to this post.
In Anything, Jenni tells her story of praying “the prayer that unlocked my God and my soul.” The prayer of anything. That she would do anything God called her to do.
I remember when I first prayed a similar prayer in high school. I didn’t form it into words. But as I lay in my bed and talked with God, I knew. I knew I had given my all to God. I knew I had completely laid my life in His hands. I knew I would do anything.
Every day since has been a continuous praying of that prayer. A continuous submitting and laying down. And reading Anything was another step in the journey. Another prayer. Another reminder that God is incomparable and can do anything, including using someone as imperfect as me.
But this unlocked, submitted way of living looks kind of scary. Because for God to use me and my imperfect, I have to show my imperfect. I have to admit my imperfect. And I have to willing to step into the anything God has for me.
As humans, we live in a conflict. We long to be known, to bare ourselves to the very core and still have love unconditional, for someone to see the inside and say with feeling, I get it. I get you. Yet beside this longing is another stirring in the heart that keeps us unfulfilled: fear. We fear to show, to bare, to reveal, to step fully into the light. Because what if?
What if that love flees in disgust?
What if no one responds with compassion, only rejection?
What if I become uncomfortable?
What if I disappoint those I love?
What if I get hurt?
What if I have to give up my lifestyle?
We strive to protect ourselves. And that very protection causes trust to dissipate and doubt to fill. We cling to ourselves. Closed and self-focused. Always wondering the what ifs? Avoiding the anything, while all the while being drawn to anything, to more.
But this is not the life God has for us. This fear-filled, mask-wearing, self-preserving life was never meant to be lived. We were made for a life of open vulnerability and full surrender. A life that is not dictated by fear, but by love. A life that is willing to be given away. To live the anything our God calls us to.
We see this life lived by David, a shepherd boy turned anointed king. Taking on giants and armies, penning words of praise and petition, and leaving the legacy of “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
David wrote such words as, “In You, Lord my God, I put my trust.” (Psalm 25:1) “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him.” (Psalm 28:7) “I trust in You, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:14)
He faced a giant who mocked his God, placing His life in God’s hands with the declaration, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord Almighty.” (1 Samuel 17:45)
David trusted and obeyed God. He had confidence in God being with him, and he submitted to God’s plan and will. No fear. No excuses. No holding back.
Yet, after waiting on God’s timing to become King, after trusting God to deliver him from harm and death on numerous occasions, David took another man’s wife. He got her pregnant. He connived and schemed to cover this up, to keep it in the dark, and eventually this led him to using his power to have the husband killed.
An ugly mess born out fear and selfishness.
But we still read those words, “I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after My own heart.” (Acts 13:22)
Because when God’s prophet Nathan confronted David with his ugly, with the darkness that had crept into his heart, with the callouses that had formed and could so quickly turn to stone, David did not reply with more lies or an attempt to justify. He instead confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13) And he prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” (Psalm 51:10, 17)
It wasn’t perfection that marked David’s legacy; it was a heart chasing after God. It was a heart offered to God.
Can we pray as David did, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”? (Psalm 139:23-24) Are we willing to show God our deepest self? Even more, are we willing to submit to God our deepest self?
For to be one who is after God’s own heart, we must chase after God’s heart. We must unlock our heart and surrender it to Him. To be molded and shaped. The stone replaced with flesh. The pride with love. The dark with light. The dead with life.
And as our heart begins to beat in time with God’s heart, we begin to wonder new what ifs?
What if a miracle took place?
What if I could walk on water?
What if God’s love transformed this persons heart?
What if this was an opportunity to forgive a wrong done, to have patience when things are not going my way, to bring peace and comfort in the middle of turmoil?
What if I was the only reflection of Jesus this person ever saw?
No longer does pride and fear dictate. For we have laid down pride in victorious surrender, and we have bared our souls to the Lover of our souls, and He has not fled, but has transformed. And now we know, we can do anything.