I said “Anything.”
Before I entered the room, I knew what I had come there to say.
It was a hotel gym the size of a janitor’s closet; it smelled like sweat and air freshener The Allegheny River snaked a placid, gray path outside the window. I was alone. There were no distractions as I stepped onto the elliptical.
I had come to tell God something in this little room. After a full year of fighting and raging in His arms like a spoiled child; after confessing that I felt like He had betrayed me; after months of intense spiritual battles that I was losing, I had come to do business with God in a hotel gym on a March morning in Pittsburgh.
As my legs started to burn, I listened to the rotors in the elliptical match the sound of my heart chambers slamming open and shut. Bam –whoosh, bam – whoosh, bam-whoosh. Such fragile machinery; the idea that I had dared to challenge the One who made me seemed even more foolish with my pulse beating in my ears. A barge on the river was making its wakeless journey outside the window, cradling tons of coal in its belly, on its way to the refineries. It was time.
“God,” I whispered, my throat raw from the emotions that had brought me to this point. “I will do anything. I told You a few months ago that I didn’t know if You were good, but I was so wrong. I’ve messed our relationship up so much, but I love You, and You are the only good thing. So, I’m ready to give you anything…”
I offer You my career, my job in which I find so much of my identity and security. Take it, and do anything with it.
I offer You my health and my mobility. It’s always been Yours. Take it. Whatever You want.
I offer You my gifts…also, not mine. Take them, and do anything.
I offer You my family, because I know from experience that their future and well-being isn’t in my hands at all.
I offer You my dreams, knowing I may never get them back, or I may get them back ten-fold. Either way, they’re Yours. Take them, and do anything.
I will do anything You ask, and You can have anything You want. And I’m scared…but I know now that You’re good. So, let’s do this.
Anyone watching the girl talking to herself (out loud) on an elliptical would have thought I was nuts. Anyone listening would have known it. Did you really just tell God you would do anything He asked? You’re really going to give Him all of those things? Yep. And it stung. It actually hurt;.this was so not natural.
You’ve trusted God before. You’ve offered Him everything, and it felt like He took it. He gave you three brutal years, which you followed with ten months of backsliding, and now you’re just re-learning how to trust Him. It’s too soon. How can you seriously do this again?
I blame the people in my church who saw me coming undone over many months and refused to let me fight my battles alone. I blame the women in my life who called me out, and challenged me to shed my self pity. I blame Jennie Allen, author of the book “Anything.” I blame her for pointing to the high bar God set for all of His kids, and saying “Hey, we should actually do this. We’re supposed to surrender it all. Why aren’t we?” I read that book on my 8-hour trip to Pittsburgh, periodically stopping to look out the window and choke back tears. It was true, and I knew it.
I knew I wanted Him again. I wanted all of Him, just like He wants all of me. I wanted the surrender, the trust, the intimacy of living fully in my God’s hands. I wanted to let Him fill me with His Spirit until His love, peace, patience, mercy, security, and grace gushed out of me and covered everyone in the vicinity. I didn’t want a normal, safe, Pinterest-cute life anymore. I wanted everything He could offer, and it was only going to come from giving Him everything. So, I said “anything
Enough about me. What was His response?
As I listed the things I was willing to give Him, I felt Him pull at my gifts, my writing. “That! I want that! Use what I’ve already given you, and see what I do.”
I hadn’t written, blogged, created in so long. As I slipped down a muddy hill of self-pity and bitterness last year, my gifts lay unused, and my precious time was wasted pursuing what made me comfortable. My enemy has no desire for me to do what I was designed to do, so he kept me mucking about, and I complied.
Just days (seriously, days) after I surrendered my gifts back to God in a Pittsburgh hotel gym, someone at my church asked me to write a spoken word piece for our Good Friday service. I didn’t know I could even do that, but I said “Yes, anything.” When I performed the piece at the service, I was petrified of flubbing the lines I had edited a dozen times, so I read them from the page. Halfway through, the words coming out of my mouth were completely improvised, even though the script was in front of my eyes.
“You changed it!” my friend said when I sat back down. “I liked it so much better than the original you read to me last night.”
“Well, I’m glad you liked it…because that wasn’t me…I was reading from the paper, and what came out of my mouth was not what I wrote.”
I tell you not a word of lie. When you give God the reins, and tell Him He can do what He wants with your life, He takes you up on it.
Weeks after, I had a request to write calls to worship and prayers for our Sunday services. I’m in the process of writing poetry and spoken word pieces with a friend who is also reawakening to her God-given gifts. I’m blogging again. Opportunities have sprung out of nowhere! I hate when people say an experience “has been really humbling” because I feel like famous people at award shows are the only ones who say that, but seriously…this is crazy humbling because I have felt unqualified for every step of this journey. All I said was “anything”. He said “Good, let’s do this.”
Joy. His joy. I could feel it instantly, and I’ve felt it ever since. He’s been waiting for me to say yes. He wanted it even more than I did. There is a pure joy that comes from doing what you were created to do, and I feel His. There is an intimacy to this journey we’re walking together, hand-in-hand. I have to say “anything” every single day. That wasn’t a one-and-done surrender session. It turned out to be a daily discipline that I tend to mess up a lot, but HE is faithful. And tomorrow, I can say it again. Anything.
I gave this entire project to Him at the beginning, and His vision bloomed into what you are reading now. I’m thrilled that He is giving me opportunities to write not just about issues of the soul and our world, but also about health, food, adventures, and art. I love that my friends want to be a part of this, and are already contributing to this project. It’s the ride of a lifetime. I’m so ready.
So here it is. Here we are. Ready to do anything.