"We read books looking for it. We get married hoping for it. We have sex to find it. We climb ladders reaching for it. We have kids in search of it. We look for friends to give it. We spend way to much money at the Apple store trying to buy it. We check e-mails looking for it. And yet it seems to escape us. Joy, passion, love and peace. Instead we seem marked by fear, insecurity, apathy, and restlessness." -Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul
I've mentioned it several times, but for the first time ever I was asked to review something on my blog. And I dropped the ball big time. As in, I got the book to review like last Spring. Almost a full year ago. Yeah. That's probably the last time I'll agree to do something like that. At least until I become better at committing to read (which I am doing better at!).
Anyway, onto the book. I really did love it. It kept getting better and better until at the end I found myself wanting to slow clap every other paragraph.
Over the past couple of years I've read Crazy Love, Radical, and 7 (in that order). And they were all really, really good reads. I sort of expected Anything to be much the same. And in some ways, it was. I think there's a tendency (aside from the whole "let's not worry about anything but the American dream" idea that all these books seem to combat) in Evangelical circles to hesitate to call people to a higher standard because of a fear that such an imperative might promote a works righteousness false gospel. That's a legitimate concern, but I'm afraid too often things go the other way and people really aren't called to any sort of holiness at all and it results in a spirit of complacency. Anyway, all that said, I've really been challenged by this type of book.
But let me move on to where this book differs. The thing I love about this book is how relatable it is. Jennie Allen has never and probably will never pastor a mega church. She's a wife, a momma, and a reluctant writer, from what I can tell. That there made the book a whole lot easier to digest than some others.
Also, the book is super practical. Lately in everything I've read, I find myself longing for the concrete. I, apparently, am a very literal person. Making big theological statements and generalizations are nice, but SHOW ME HOW THEY PLAY OUT IN YOUR LIFE AND MINE. Well, this book does that. It recounts the details of Jennie Allen's life as she and her husband told the Lord "God we will do anything. Anything." She tells me the specifics, y'all.
Another factor that makes this book so appealing is the spirit of humility in which it's written. Jennie tells us about her struggles with praying "Anything" and letting go of control. It's really genuine and you get the feeling that this woman could be your best friend sitting across the table at a coffee shop and telling you about her daily stresses and joys.
But while doing all this...being relatable, and practical, and humble...she doesn't mince words:
"...Something could happen. Something so much greater than my feeling important or appreciated, greater than Target and status updates, even greater than healthy kids and a happy life. I could watch God stream through me, pour our of me, move me and move others, and remind us all of something big. Something real. Something we could participate in that actually would last and matter. Prayers like anything place us in the midst of stories. These stories have an author who writes characters, places, and parts. He develops story lines that are actually quite epic, even if they feel momentarily insignificant. In a million unique ways- as we change diapers, eat dinner, return e-mails, pay the bills- we are to be the evidence of God. Jesus factored in the mundane. We need to seat and sleep and shower and clean up and work on our marriages because of the way he made us- typical, inadequate, and human...So do your everyday and your ordinary. Godliness is found and formed in those places. No man or woman greatly used by God has escaped them. Great men and women of God have transformed the mundane, turning neighborhoods into mission fields, parenting into launching the next generation of God's voices, legal work into loving those most hurting, waiting tables into serving and loving in such a way that people see our God."
-Jennie Allen, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul
Amen. I don't know what I could add to that.