In Made For This, a beautiful blend of bestselling books Anything and Restless, join Bible teacher Jennie Allen on a 40-day interactive journey that takes you through a step-by-step process to guide you in answering life’s ultimate question.
Made for This will help you:
- Stop living afraid and insecure by discovering how God can use your dreams and passions for a greater purpose.
- Identify the threads in your life and how they intentionally weave together for a greater purpose.
- Trade control and safety for a life of God-honoring adventure by praying one prayer.
Discover how to fully surrender to God and identify the threads of gifts, passions, places, relationships, and sufferings in your life—not to get what you want, but to find what God wants of you.
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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
— EPHESIANS 2:10
God, we will do anything. Anything."
That night as I was falling asleep, after my husband Zac and I prayed anything, I looked up at God and asked Him, What do You want me to do while I'm here?
We were just so tired of normal. We loved our simple, sane life, but now we wanted to find the kind of life you only find if you lose normal, simple, and sane. God was real and heaven was coming, and I wanted to hold every moment on earth in light of when I would meet God face-to-face. We didn't want to hold on to life as we knew it. There was something bigger than us and our little story playing out on this spinning planet, and we wanted in.
This is a journey that starts with deciding you're all in. That you're made for something more, and you're over living for anything less. You're over living a cute, comfortable, easy life. Sick of making decisions based on your own limited adequacy and capacity because, if God is real and who He says He is, why would you?
If you're like me when I prayed anything, you don't want to waste your life. I didn't want to miss what God had for me because I was afraid to let go of what I knew. I was ready to forsake this life for the next. I wanted Him to unreservedly have me, so that when I faced Him, we would both know that my life was spent on everything He had dreamed for me. I wanted to be right with God at the end of my life rather than right with all the people in it.
To get to that point, I had to be ruined for ordinary life. Reading the blog of a girl named Katie Davis Majors, who had given up a comfortable life to adopt thirteen kids in Uganda — all because she was in love with Jesus — I grieved. I grieved the life I had built around a plastic god and a pretend heaven. I grieved a life that was spent on myself, the excess I had justified while others suffered. I grieved sitting back and controlling my image rather than pouring out my life and gifts for the kingdom of God. I grieved that my mind had been spent solving my own simple problems rather than giving my life away.
Why had I sat on every gift God had given me to make Him known? Because I cared more about being judged by everyone else but Him?
It devastated me because I almost got away with a wasted life. But it was like God lifted my head and let me see into His heart, into heaven, into the brokenness of those suffering, into my own soul. And in a moment what had never occurred to me made perfect sense. So much sense that I was willing ... desperately willing ... to do anything.
Honestly, I think most people are craving something bigger than comfort and an easy life. I think, if you are starting this journey, you are someone who feels that too. We were made for this bigger story ... we were made to show the glory of God and to fight dark cosmic forces, even in parts of life that seem mundane. I know — it still sounds insane to me too. But it's real, and it's our story. And we were made for this. Now we discover what part we play in it by being wholly consecrated to Him. By praying anything.
Henry Varley said, "The world has yet to see what God will do with and a man fully consecrated to him." I don't know if the world has seen it yet, but I do think we've found ourselves in the midst of a generation who would like to try. I want to try.
This is a journey toward living in that bigger story God has for you. Toward leaping, fighting, wrestling, and searching until you lay hold of it. Take these forty days to go deep — to search your restless soul, to dig through Scripture, and to know the heart of God so as to find your place in it. While at times it will be hard, at times exhilarating, at times beautiful and even terrifying, it will be worth it. Even if it is overwhelming and costly, it will be worth it because God is worth it.
AGAINST THE CURRENT
I look around and see currents that have dug deep crevices in our culture and eventually carved them into our souls. Currents that make us think:
These seventy to eighty years of life feel long and important.
Comfort and safety are worthy pursuits.
Happiness is my right as an American.
Moral living pleases God.
As a generation, I believe we are all yawning and waking up, identifying these currents, and comparing them to the truth of God. We're considering this simple but game-changing thought: If God is really real and we are going to live with Him forever, shouldn't He be the only thing? Shouldn't He be the controlling force of our lives? If we really believe this?
We feel a growing desire not to become like the religious people God referred to when He said, "This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me" (Isa. 29:13 ESV).
And everyone is asking the question, Do I believe in the invisible enough that I'm willing to live for it?
It is a call to childlike faith. The simple reaction a child has to truth is to believe, act, and live as if truth is true. Simply. Recklessly. Christ said: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3 ESV). Anything is a prayer of childlike trust — trust that no matter what He asks you to do, He will do something beautiful with you. No matter how unprepared, inept, or ordinary you might feel, He's holding your hand
If you look at every significant impact for God's kingdom — from Paul in Acts to D. L. Moody to Billy Graham to Mother Teresa — these were all average people, sometimes the least likely people, who were just completely resigned to God.
Zac and I, we wanted in on this. We wanted to know what works God had prepared in advance for us to do. We wanted into the stories that last forever. We wanted to quit being swept along with the current and building lives that did not matter for eternity. We wanted to not just offer God words but truly offer up our lives and all that was in them, letting go of every expectation of what He would say.
"God, we will do anything. Anything." Our lives now lay in the hands of a reckless, invisible God.
Write your own definition of surrender. What is it?
What does surrender cost?
What is the outcome of surrender for you?
In what ways, if any, are you sick of "normal"?
Think about wanting to be right with God at the end of your life rather than right with all the people in it. Can you discern between these two right now? What are the differences?
What do you need to let go of to offer your life and all that is in it to the Lord?
Here at the beginning, what do you hope to gain from this journey? Why do you think God has brought you to this point?
READ & REFLECT
What will your story be? In what will feel like only a minute, if you know Jesus as your Savior, we will be together in heaven. I am so excited that you are starting this journey toward living the story He has for you, and I cannot wait to meet face- to- face and hear it all. You better not bring me the safe version of a life! Bring the crazy stuff. Bring the unexplainable. Bring the story only God could write. I can't wait.
Read Acts 17:26 and Ephesians 2:10.
Acts says that God sets us in the generation and place we live. And in Ephesians Paul writes that before time, God planned the good works we would do. There are stories already written that we are to live. Are we living them?
After reading these passages, consider the answers to these two questions:
Who are You, Lord?
What do You want for me?CHAPTER 2
WHAT IS YOUR ANYTHING?
Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
— PHILIPPIANS 3:7
That night we prayed anything, I told God, "From this point on things are changing. I am living for the moment when I will face You. I want to get to heaven out of breath, having willingly done anything that You — God of the universe — asked me to do ... anything."
Zac and I prayed anything every night for a week. Every night we offered up something else to God as though we were little kids; we lifted up our house to Him as if it were a little red plastic Monopoly house that we were willing to trade Him. We offered our home, our jobs, our places, and our talents, and step by step He answered yes or no, this way or that. Eventually He led us into radical, life-upending changes including adoption, new ministries, new cities, and other things beyond what we could have come up with by ourselves. But it started with the little everyday things. And as He peeled our grip off our lives, it hurt. As He asked us to jump, it terrified us. But we discovered that's how the best things start.
HOW TO PRAY ANYTHING
Praying anything is where it all begins. It's not just saying mere words or a reckless sacrifice; praying anything begins with love — actually loving a person. "If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Cor. 13:3 esv). Starting with love and moving through to obedience, here are the most important steps to praying the anything prayer.
1. Experience Christ. Anything begins with a relationship with the God of the universe through Christ, who says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 ESV).
Laying down all that we love more than Him is next, and that may take a while. It took many years of God chipping away at me, and even still it is a daily surrender. But after that — after you are all surrendered, willing, abandoned, sold out, and all in — then what?
2. Pray. Our story began long before we prayed. The night we uttered the words was just a step in the process of surrender. But it was an important step. God wants to be invited in to lead your life, for your heart to stand before Him and say, "You have me. Do anything with me." That is a bold, beautiful move. Continuing to mean it daily as His will unfolds will prove even more powerful. Ask Him to show you where He wants you to pour out your life and gifts and resources.
3. God Speaks. He speaks first through His Word. If I hadn't read God's Word to us about caring for the poor and the orphaned dozens of times, I would have never sensed His Spirit leading me to adopt. Or if it wasn't clear to me the passionate way Christ loved me and poured His life out for me, I would not be compelled to do the same for others. We know who God is because of His Word; we must read it. His Spirit's leading always is tied up in His Word. We are to walk with God "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24 ESV). One without the other is not of God; it is either a false spirit or dead religion.
So you read and study and search and pray. Then you ask God to lead you. When we were feeling led in specific anythings, it wasn't through an audible voice. It was through promptings in our spirits, that burning in our gut when we know something is real. It burns, but it is also subtle, gentle, and mysteriously quiet. Sometimes He quickly makes himself clear, and sometimes it involves months of processing and wrestling with God till we know for sure. But He does still speak to our hearts because He has things for us here — things we cannot accomplish without Him.
4. Band Together. Surround yourself with people on the same mission. We were built to need people. We cannot passionately surrender and follow God alone. We were built for bands of brothers (and sisters) to fight beside us. Find a church, start a study or small group, get creative, but find people to live on a mission with who will make you better, help you remember, and help you live your anythings. Intentionally pursue people who make you better.
5. Obey. Do what He says — whatever He says. You will be miserable until you obey. Even if it is hard, even if it is costly, it will be worth it. No matter the cost ... obey and trust Him with the consequences of that obedience. Whatever we considered valuable, it will pale in comparison to Him. These things, Paul said, "I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him" (Phil. 3:8). That's how they compare. He is more than worth giving whatever we have to give. Then He gets in and actually restores us, unwinds our mess of a head and soul. His mercy trumps the most epic of stories. This God is real, and He is worth my surrender.
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matt. 6:10)
When we have our lives in gripped hands and we consider handing them over, most of us get that feeling — fear mixed with adrenaline mixed with nausea. It feels as though we might die if we jump. But when I prayed anything, what I feared would bind me set me free. It stung like death, and it still feels like death, but that feeling is the key turning in the lock. On the other side of the pain is freedom, peace, joy, hope, and the loss of control. It's how we were made to live.
So why do it? Why pray anything — and then do anything?
What if these little acts of obedience were a small part of a matrix of dominoes unfolding the glory of God (small because, after all, I am a small domino in a huge matrix)? Could He bypass me and find another route? Of course — He is God.
But what if I laid down my life, my domino, and through that unleashed an army of others who laid down and unleashed their obedience? What if, through this matrix, God's glory was displayed?
Many dominoes have fallen behind me to allow me to fall. Watching friends fall into adoption prepared our hearts for falling into adoption. And countless mentors and friends have fallen into my life to help me to fall into ministry through writing.
We are all dominoes ... we all have our place. What is yours?
I beg you — all of us — to fall. Fall into obedience that will shape the glory of God in our generation. We don't want to get to heaven and realize we missed it, that God rerouted around us.
Besides, I have a feeling that what God has for us are the best things in life. I don't want to miss them.
Why would you pray anything? Is God worth it to you?
When you think about what your anything is, where do you feel your heart taking you? What scares you most and makes you most excited? List these things and pray through them in reflection.
When you think about praying your own anything, what is the most difficult thing to release control of to God, to lift up to Him?
There is a temptation to think surrender should look like the radical, crazy stuff everyone can see. What small, quiet, obedient step is God calling you to right now?
If God actually told you what He wanted you to do, would you be afraid to do it? How do you imagine this will work itself out in your everyday and ordinary moments?
We have no idea how our small acts of obedience impact others. Some of our anythings feel flashy and fancy, but most fall in secret places. And that throws us. We think we need to do something grand to prove our surrender. But God is so pleased with the times of prayer and obedience that happen in secret. "Your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt. 6:4).
Whose faith has most shaped yours? What is it about their obedience that has influenced you?
Get an hour alone and journal. Can you pray anything?
Do it. Today. Don't wait.
Write it out. Tear it out and share it with the people closest to you.
Take a photo and mark this decision. It's your turning point.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Made for This"
Copyright © 2019 Jennie Allen.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Made for This, ix,
PART 1: THE PRAYER,
DAY 1: Praying Anything, 3,
DAY 2: What Is Your Anything?, 9,
DAY 3: Out of Control, 17,
DAY 4: Anything for His Glory, 25,
DAY 5: Stepping into His Story, 31,
PART 2: THE CALL,
DAY 6: Restless, 41,
DAY 7: Permission to Dream, 48,
DAY 8: What's Keeping Us from Dreaming?, 54,
DAY 9: Surrender Is Scary, 60,
DAY 10: Why Are We Afraid of Ourselves?, 66,
DAY 11: Purely Devoted, 72,
DAY 12: Embracing Uncertainties, 78,
DAY 13: What We Can Know and What We Can't, 85,
DAY 14: Four Starting Places, 91,
PART 3: THE THREADS,
DAY 15: The Process, 101,
DAY 16: The Project, 107,
DAY 17: God's Story, God's Glory, 114,
DAY 18: A Pixel in the Picture, 120,
DAY 19: Your Story, 126,
DAY 20: Threads of Gifts, 132,
DAY 21: Natural Abilities and Spiritual Gifts, 138,
DAY 22: Threads of Suffering, 144,
DAY 23: Why Do We Suffer?, 151,
DAY 24: Threads of Places, 158,
DAY 25: Jumping into Place, 165,
DAY 26: Threads of People, 171,
DAY 27: Pursue Them, 176,
DAY 28: Threads of Passions, 183,
DAY 29: Feeding Your Passions, 190,
DAY 30: Mystery, 196,
DAY 31: The Tailor, 204,
DAY 32: Your Threads, 210,
PART 4: THE FUTURE,
DAY 33: Untangling a Dream, 217,
DAY 34: Shrinking Back, 223,
DAY 35: Fight for It, 231,
DAY 36: When We Dream, 238,
DAY 37: The Voices We Listen To, 246,
DAY 38: Focused and Steady, 253,
DAY 39: Leaving Behind/ Moving Toward, 259,
DAY 40: The End of Mundane, 263,
How to Find God, 269,
About the Author, 276,