“God, we will do anything. Anything.”

If this is your first time reading our blog, welcome! We are so glad you’re here! This post is a continuation of a prayer that began over a year ago after reading the book Anything by Jennie Allen. You may have found this through the photo I shared on Instagram, or maybe you followed the link from the post Gabe Day and Prayers for Anything If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, I would encourage you to start there before reading below.

Prayers for Anything – Part 2

I have to smile when people ask in fear, “What if God calls us to Africa?” Although this question gets thrown around less now than it has in the past, it still seems to be a hindrance for many of us struggling to fully surrender our lives to the One who made us.

Thinking we were off the hook since we checked “go to Africa” off our list years ago, I dove into the book without fear. Although, we would soon realize it is sometimes easier to hop on a plane to Africa than it is to walk across the street and love our literal neighbors.

We continued to pray, “God, we will do anything,” and tried to discern where God was leading us. We prayed about finishing our license to become foster parents, thinking this was the next logical step. Yet, the absence of peace gave us pause. So, we continued to pray.

When Labor Day weekend came, we found ourselves slowly sipping coffee late into the morning on what felt like a Saturday disguised as a Monday. After reading this article from Relevant Magazine, we decided to get to know our neighbors. Immediately. We settled on a plan to host a cookout that evening. All we needed to do was plan the menu, go shopping, prepare the food, and invite the guests. All in the next few hours. With a bit of excitement and a lot of fear, we lifted ourselves from the couch, walked out the door and down the street. Glancing back and forth at each other as we walked, our eyes asked the questions we couldn’t verbalize:

“What will we say?”

“Will they even be home?”

“How is it possible we’ve lived here this long without even introducing ourselves?”

Before shame could grab a foothold, we prayed, “God, we will do anything.”

We eased in slowly, starting with people we know. Their “yeses” gave us the needed encouragement to continue. What surprised us the most were the conversations that took place on many front porches. We assumed we’d extend the invitation and move on, but a rare and beautiful thing happens when you look another person in the eye and realize the power of paying attention.

It’s not often in our digitally saturated lives that people feel seen, known, and loved face-to-face.

I am still moved to tears by some of the stories we heard that day. I am motivated even now to continue cultivating those relationships.

One of the sweetest interactions was with an elderly man who took quite a while to answer the door. After a bit of silence, we heard sounds inside the house gradually growing louder as footsteps moved toward us. When the door creaked open, our neighbor was rubbing his eyes, yet smiling, as he smoothed the wrinkles in his blue silk pajama pants and matching top. His excitement at the sight of visitors overshadowed any annoyance he may have felt toward us for interrupting his afternoon nap. Our conversation lingered for a while before he said goodbye and hurried inside to relay the dinner invitation to his wife.

Their arrival that evening holds a place in my memory as one of the most beautiful pictures of a lifetime of love. After several neighbors had walked from their homes and gathered in our driveway, we noticed this couple’s car slowly backing out of their driveway and then making its way towards us from two houses down. Gripping the steering wheel carefully with both hands, he guided their Buick past one driveway, signaled with the blinker, and slowly inched his way uphill, coming to a stop just feet away from the circle of lawn chairs outside our garage. Slowly, yet intentionally, he rose from the driver’s seat and circled the car, opening his wife’s door and unbuckling her seat belt. He gently placed her hand around his arm and led her to one of the chairs as everyone made introductions.

I held my tears that night while serving hamburgers and hot dogs on paper plates. But standing in our dining room the next morning looking down the street, I couldn’t help just weeping over the stories we heard the night before. Grieving, not for the stories themselves, but that they had been hidden right in front of us for years, unknown. I prayed for the widow down the street whose husband built many of the houses in our neighborhood. I prayed for the neighbor who’s grandkids feel almost like cousins to Gabe because they play together every time they’re in town visiting for holidays. I prayed for the family across the street, who we actually know pretty well, but wondering how we could know them more.

We were certainly thankful for the way all of our lives intersected that evening, and continue to now. We weren’t exactly sure if this is what “Anything” looked like, but we continued to pray, “God, we will do anything.” Just two days later, we would see the next part of the “Anything Prayer” unfold.

Continue reading Prayers for Anything – Part 3