My anything story begins here. At the intersection of Abraham and Isaac and the need for God to tear things from my heart so He could reign there unchallenged. As with most things they exist there so long and grow so quietly you don’t even realize they’re there or see how they’re getting in the way. I remember it so clearly. It was almost a year ago today coming home from work, lost and crying out to God for peace, answers, an outpouring of His love. Somehow numb and in pain all at once I sat there on my couch in my sunroom as I cried out to Him. The last few weeks hadn’t been easy. There was a boy, a boy I’d cared for some time. He’d come close and pull away and we’d cycle through this for longer than I’d like to admit all while I waited.
A root developed in my heart and grew strong. So strong I didn’t realize it was pushing up foundations and taking up residence. We danced this dance so long I thought this was just another spin that by the time I turned around again he would be there, until suspicions came and fears came true and just like that before my eyes he’d found another. Sitting there that day praying for peace and direction the Lord brought back to mind a book I had heard about more than a year ago and for all the reasons it hadn’t been time to read before then I knew it was for this moment. The book was “Anything”.
I opened my computer and typed the book in, going from video to video and devouring Jennie’s blog. A peace and reassurance fell over me as I sat there and a dream began to root. In the wake of heartbreak and feeling lost the Lord planted a dream. A dream that He needed to uproot things from my heart in order to plant. It was like He was saying to me all over again, “Jessica, I have plans for you but you’re going to have to let go of some things in order for me to take you there.” This was one of those things.
As Tozer says about Abraham coming to a place of being willing to sacrifice his long awaited and only son, “We must in our hearts live through Abraham’s harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them. The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw.”
What happened in the days and weeks that followed was nothing short of God’s grace as He wove a story of surrender and purpose that would never have had a chance of springing up if that nasty root hadn’t been extracted. I spent the coming days soaking in every word and saying amen until finally it was my turn to pray one the scariest and exhilarating things that has ever left my mouth.
“God, you have me. You have me for anything. Even if my worst fears come true and even if your dreams for my life look different than mine.”
He told me to pray, to pray for the women of my church, for their hearts, their faith, to finish the race strong. One by one I listed them on a sheet of paper and lingered over their name as I gave them over to the Father. Each week when someone new would come through our doors I’d write her name and pray over the list.
“Dad, these are your daughters who you’ve entrusted us with. Help us to care for them and lead them closer to you. Show us Lord how to grow them and use them and what your heart is for them.”
That October I went to Catalyst in Atlanta and attended the IF Gathering lab track and over the next two days He continued weaving a dream in my heart. I arrived home and before I could even unpack I sorted through my notes organizing them as one and I began to see a theme. Those prayers for those women were just the start. He spoke of the race I’ve been given, who am I and what breaks my heart. He spoke of using my limp for His glory and to not be afraid to tell me story.
I sat there early one Thursday morning just after arriving home sharing this thing God was stirring inside with my Pastors wife. The dream to start a discipleship group for the women of our young church plant helping to develop women who are following hard after you, breaking free, encountering your love and living the lives you have for them. I’m pretty sure I wanted to throw up from nerves in that moment but she knew my heart and saw all that God was doing inside me and said she knew it was time. In December I stepped out and invited ten of my peers to join me in this journey, reading books, studying the Word and grappling with the question of what it is God has for us all while I prayed for their hearts and their faith and against persistent roots developing in their hearts.
It’s been the most exhilarating experience and stretching almost all of the time. But it’s a journey and our walk with the Father is an adventure. I’m grateful He loves us enough to not give us everything we ask for and glad that His plans and ways for my life are far better and higher than anything I could every think or imagine. I sit here today a girl who is abandoned. An average girl who prayed “anything” and whom the Lord began to use in ways she never could have imagined. It’s not by my works or my plans but through surrender and His amazing grace and it’s just the beginning.