I’ve jumped in to Jennie Allen’s book and bible study, “Anything.” I love the premise that we’re telling God we’ll literally do anything for Him. They’re asking us to send in stories about our own anything prayer, so here’s mine (or what I know of it so far!).
A few years ago, I was studying the life of Jacob in a Bible study with several women. The story of Jacob wrestling with God really struck a chord with me. The more I think about it the more I am impressed with Jacob’s nerve! Most Bible characters, when approached by an angel, or The Angel of the Lord, as Jacob was, fall down on their faces and beg for mercy. Jacob seems to not understand who he is dealing with and wrestles with “the man” all night! After this impressive physical feat, the man miraculously injures Jacob to try and end the wrestle. But still, Jacob is holding on, and won’t let go until the man gives him a blessing.
It is only after this whole encounter that Jacob realizes he was wrestling with God himself, possibly in the form of Jesus. (See Genesis 32:22-32) This story is remarkable to me in many ways, but the part that sticks out the most is that Jacob was injured by “the man”. Basically he exchanged a blessing for an injury that remained with him the rest of his life.
Generally, when I think of receiving God’s blessing, I envision peace, prosperity, happiness, and joy. I do not envision a life altering injury. I think the two versions are extremes though. We do not have to be “injured” to receive God’s blessing, nor do we automatically become prosperous and happy as a result of living in God’s blessing. The more I thought about this story, the more I saw that God’s blessing comes on our lives when we’re doing exactly what God wants us to do. That is the blessed life – no matter what our outward circumstances may be. Rich or poor, sick or healthy, depressed and anxious or happy and peaceful – none of these indicate whether we’re living the “blessed life”.
The more I pondered this God-encounter, the more I was pressed to wrestle with God about what He was calling me to do. Finally, I decided that it was time to lay it all out. I don’t remember the day or the time, but I do remember that I was walking across a parking lot – probably Target! I said – okay God. I want your will for my life. I believe that the way to live a blessed life is to do whatever it is you want from me. I want your blessing on my life and I’m ready to lay down anything, even to the point of being injured, to receive what it is you have. Immediately after speaking these words in my head, I got scared. What in the world had I just said?! Was I going to get cancer now? Was my husband or children going to be involved in some sort of scary accident? How would this “injury” manifest?
Well, I have not received any bad scary news since praying that scary prayer. My life has been altered though. In the space of one month, we jumped from a family of 5 to a family of 7 with the addition of two foster children, put in an offer on THREE houses and finally got the one that God had for us all along, and found out that we were expecting our FOURTH biological child. It has been a whirlwind of blessings, that have most definitely been complicating to my life. (I love Pastor Mark Batterson’s insight that God’s blessings complicate your life – in good ways, but STILL!)
I have struggled under the weight of all these blessings, feeling unequal to the task God has set before us. I have been awed at the provision God has given to meet every need just on time (sometimes really just in the nick of time…). I still struggle with wanting to see our family’s path more than one step at a time – I thought I knew what this fall and winter would look like for us, but that vision is gone and replaced with something new.
God has blessed us with more than we thought we wanted. And I have literally had to lay my life and my body down to it.
I thought we were done having babies and that we would never have a son. God said, not so fast – you’re not done yet. And here’s the little boy you never thought you would have!
I thought I was heading back in to a traditional season of working outside the home and God has said, maybe not now – there’s still work to be done at home.
I thought our family was going to be foster parenting for the next several years. God has remained silent on that one, but it feels much more fuzzy and we are only moving forward with every new decision in front of us at a time.
What I feel confident in is that God’s plans are deeper and fuller than I ever thought. I’ve already been swimming in the deep waters of it and am ready to keep going, whatever that means. Anything, God, really. Anything.