In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. — 1 Peter 1:3-4
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 eat and sleep and shower and clean up and work on our marriages because of the way He made us — typical, inadequate, and human. Embrace the common: a Sunday afternoon watching sports, coffee with a friend, cooking dinner for a neighbor, taking the dog for a walk, heading to a job that is making you more humble and needy because it is so unfulfilling, or working through conflict with a friend you have offended. This and more is all part of it.
So do your everyday and your ordinary. Godliness is found and formed in those places.
Jesus said the way we glorify God, the way we step into His story, is by accomplishing the work God gives us to do. While on earth Jesus glorified His Father by doing this very thing.
We play our part in His story, and the beauty is we were made for this.
We trust in God, who leads us to do spiritual things that may not totally make sense. God is still not very practical, and to follow Him takes trust. Following Him completely requires belief that He is good even if everything here and now is not, that He sees us and has an intentional plan for our few years here.
But before we can do anything, we need the Spirit to do anything, and He operates on a different level.
THE SPIRIT FUELS US
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. It would seem ridiculous… unless it is all real.
I had made following Christ all about rules and principles. But the relationship I’d heard about growing up? This was it. God’s Holy Spirit in me. Leaning into Him for self-control when my kids talk back, for guidance on where to use God’s gifts in me, for words when I am writing, and for patience as the consequences of obeying flooded our lives.
Without the Spirit of God to lead our anythings, we will only be do-gooders with our own agendas. And they will fizzle. It will be a phase, some dramatic spiritual experiment we look back on fondly, wishing it had been real life. But sometimes the real thing takes time. We prayed anything, but it was over the course of months and years that our anythings have been revealed. I imagine this will continue for the rest of our lives; if we remain willing, more anythings are in store.
The Spirit is in us, those bound to Christ, and we wait on Him to act. We wait on Him to tell us what’s next. This isn’t easy, but it’s pretty simple.
Service, or living your anything, is simply an expression of what is true about my God: He is trustworthy. I adore Him, so He has me… all of me. I don’t choose my own path anymore. It is set for me, laid before the foundations of time. God prepared in advance the good works I would do (Ephesians 2:10). That is the beautiful call on my life, on our lives. Led by the Spirit of God.
CALLED TO A PERSON
As our friends prayed and acted on their anythings, they weren’t just recklessly saying yes to God’s Spirit. They were also being set free from sin they had struggled with for years. As God got bigger, their thousand problems were shrinking. God was setting everyone free. Our affections, our goals, our futures had shifted. We were on a mission. Life was getting really fun because we were running with friends toward Heaven, with abandon.
Abandonment only makes sense if there is a God worthy of abandoning everything for. The greatest gift in surrender is that in letting go of everything you think will fix you and make you feel better, you find a Person… not a pat answer or a verse or a cause. After your head clears from the struggle of wrestling yourself to the ground, you see a Person.
He was there before when you were preoccupied, but now you see Him.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. — John 15:11 ESV
And Scripture tells us,
We love because He first loved us. — 1 John 4:19 ESV
He is our “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
When we don’t love or feel joy or peace or passion, it’s because we do not know His love or His joy or peace or passion. He is a Person, not a magic pill you take when your life or your soul is broken. He is a Person you talk to and listen to and love and respect. He’s someone you decide to spend time with and dream with, someone you follow and learn from and hurt with — someone you choose over anybody else, over anything else. Jesus is a Person — the Person who defines my life, sweeps in, and changes me. When I let Him in.
We all want to be free, joyful, and peaceful, but we get reluctant to hand God everything. Yet that is part of the path to the things He promises us.
At some point our faith and our words must become our actions and lives. But here is the beautiful, backward thing about risking everything for God: it is not the ones sitting out the dangerous parts who are finding life; it is the ones with everything at risk — heart racing, hopes high, purpose clear, and completely dependent and scared to death — who are really experiencing life.
The thing about following Jesus is He does things backward — freedom and true life came out of His death. In turn, to follow Christ to the cross, we jump: trusting Him with everything, praying anything, handing over every day and all that lives in it to a Person — in death we find life and freedom too.
God is often present right over the edges. Even so, “doing something,” even something good, even something great, will never be the Gospel. When we trust God with everything, He can explode our numb life into something beautifully meaningful.
We want God to knock out suffering and poverty. Ironically, He gave us just about all we need to do it. We give our lives to Him and He gives our lives away. Nothing on earth is more fun and more full than being distributed by an all-knowing, compassionate God, who knows exactly where our ridiculously blessed lives would be best spent.
There are a million creative ways to give our lives away, and we are going to find out what those are in the coming days. God is just waiting for us to jump.
Excerpted with permission from Made for This by Jennie Allen, copyright Jennie Allen.
* * *
In what area of your life is God asking not for radical sacrifice but simple obedience and your heart? Read James 2:14–17. Do you talk more about God than you obey Him? In what area of your life are faith and words ready to become actions? What are the first few steps you can take toward your anything? Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily