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What Can't You Surrender to God? A Conversation with Jennie Allen

What Can't You Surrender to God? A Conversation with Jennie Allen


Aug 24 2012
The 35-year-old mother of four writes about fear, insecurity, and the prayer that upended her life.

She stood in front of a crowded room of young women eager to hear her speak. Unbeknownst to the crowd, Jennie Allen was gripped with fear. All she could think of was how she was being perceived and the waves of criticism that would supposedly come following her talk.

Upon meeting Allen, 35, you'd never suspect she once grappled with deep-rooted insecurities. Gregarious and warm, Allen is expressively passionate about Jesus Christ and reaching the next generation. But for years her zeal was quenched by fear. That is until she prayed a simple prayer, one she documents in her book Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul.

"I realized that I had loved and craved the approval of people," says Allen. "I'm tired of living for the invisible thoughts of others. I was free of something that had been consuming me."

In Anything (Thomas Nelson, April 2012) Allen writes about bondage to self and stuff, and seeking safety, comfort and happiness in those things. She recounts how God challenged her to lose her life and surrender it to him.

"Anything is about living right now, surrendered," says the Austin resident and mother of four. "We (my husband and I) were disillusioned by the things we were chasing. I was reading Katie Davis's blog, and it floored me. I began to ask, what am I doing and why am I living for all of these people?" (Davis, you'll recall, is a 22-year-old Christian—and transracial adoptive mother of 14 currently living in Uganda.)

One night Allen and her husband, Zac, began to pray. "God, we will do anything—anything," slipped out of Zac's mouth. Left were a tinge of fear and two lives now surrendered.

Surrender and abandonment of self have cropped up as themes in several Christian women's titles over the past year. Jennifer Hatmaker's book Seven addressed ridding oneself of greed and materialism. Ann Voskamp wrote of her quest to be thankful in all circumstances—even after the death of her 3-year-old sister—in her New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts. And then there's Katie Davis's radical move to Uganda and adoption of 14 girls, documented in Kisses from Katie.

That young Christian women are hungry for more of the Word was also apparent at the Gospel Coalition's first women's conference, featuring popular theologians and Bible teachers such as John Piper, Tim Keller, Paige Brown, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Kathleen Nielson. Women attending commented on the richness of the messages and the depth of the expository preaching.

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