Review by Gloria Furman
I know this post title might sound like a catch-all for me to write a book review about any random book on my shelf (which actually might be a fun exercise someday).
But this isn’t just any random book. It’s Anything, my friend Jennie Allen’s invitation to every woman to seek the Lord’s face and pray, “Lord, anything.”
When Jennie talks about confessing to the Lord your willingness to do “anything” he asks, she means that the posture a child of God should assume before her loving Father is one of reposed willingness to walk by faith.
The first line of Jonathan Dodson’s endorsement for Anything reads: “Anything does theology without handing out a sign.”
Dodson is right, Jennie doesn’t write in theological jargon. Yet as she shares about her journey of faith she makes challenging assertions about the nature of faith and the goal of the Christian life.
Here are some foundational statements:
Who God Is: “Service, or living your anything, is simply an expression of what is true about my God: he is trustworthy.”
Who We Are and What We’re Doing: “Until we believe in the reality of a spiritual war where spiritual beings exist and a spiritual plan is being accomplished, we won’t need an invisible Spirit’s help.”
Jennie asserts that God can provide the means for you to do whatever he asks of you, and that those means are contained in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is a liberating corrective to the self-help books that lance God’s word out of context from the will of the God who spoke them.
“I knew deep down I was screwed up. I also knew nobody really knew it, and I liked it that way. I did not want to be facedown in the sand like all the sinners Jesus healed. I wanted to stay bright and shiny and good, and comfortably on my feet. Yet when I read the words of Christ, I felt this call. A call to fall on my face.”
“The gospel of grace fights every piece of pride in us. When God gives us grace, he is also taking something from us. He takes our control. So many of us don’t live in grace even though we may have grown up singing about it since birth.”
I think the greatest strength of this book is the honest questions that Jennie asks. Here are some that stood out to me:
“What if [God] lets me suffer? What if he asks me to sacrifice? What if none of my dreams come true? The very thought of doing anything demands everything. We have to face our fears. If we believe he is real, if we believe he has an eternal heart, we have to face the fact that a God like that may mess with our temporary comfort and fictional scrapbooks.”
“Why had I loved people more than him? Why had I sat on every gift he had given me to make him known? Because I cared more about being judged by everyone else but him?”
“Somewhere in my life I picked up the idea that if things did not feel right or fall perfectly into place, God was not in them. I thought obeying God should feel pretty easy and convenient. For instance, if God was calling you to Africa, then he would have a buyer for your house in two weeks; and if not, then he likely isn’t in it…. Where did I get that?”
You can find Jennie Allen’s Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2011) on Book Depository (free delivery worldwide – paperback or audio CD) or on Amazon (paperback, Kindle or audio CD).
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).