Tuesday, May 20, 2008

At the close of another year of Bible study

We pretty much finished up this session of Bible study last night; our usual last night out is planned for next week.

It was a small group last night, just six of us. While I love that our group has grown (though still not large by anyone's standards), I also love the intimacy of a much smaller group, all of us around one table, openly and honestly sharing our thoughts and concerns and questions and struggles.

It reminds me of when I first began this community study on Monday nights. I had no idea what I was doing nor how to even start. All I had was a call from God and a determination to say yes. I wrote a letter of introduction and invitation to the ladies' groups of the area churches; my friend helped me stuff envelopes and collect contact information. We made flyers and secured a meeting location, and then, on that first night, we waited to see who--if anyone--would come.

I had ordered 25 books, with no idea whatsoever whether that would prove to be too many or too few. Turns out it was too many as there were only five ladies that first night, including me and my friend.

Sure, part of me was disappointed, but the other part of me was grateful that even four would come. Most of me was overwhelmed and humbled. And nervous. Terribly nervous. I am quite sure I stammered my way through my carefully prepared and much prayed over notes, yet miraculously all five of us returned the next week. And the next week. And the week after that. A couple more friends joined us, and we found ourselves on an adventure that only God Himself could ordain for us. I knew that God had called me to this step of faith. Turns out He called others to come alongside me as well. Amazing grace.

While each study has brought new faces to our group, there are still four of us from that very first night, still together after four years' worth of Monday nights spent in God's word.

Four years. God's faithfulness to us has been amazing. Amazing.

I once had a conversation with a fellow church member, a man, about the community nature of this group. We are from different churches across the area, as well as different denominations. "And what's the point?" he asked me.

That was two or three years ago. I do not remember what (incoherent and insufficient) answer I gave him, but his question has rung in my mind ever since.

What is the point? This I must ask myself. May it never be about numbers. Or, God forbid, about me. It is about women studying God's Word, women united not by denominational affiliation (though important) but by our love for Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Four years ago the five of us cast a vision for this group based on Ex. 33:13-23. There Moses asks the Lord, "if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight." The Lord answers, "My presence will go with you , and I will give you rest."

Moses then says, "If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct...?"

This is our heart's cry: if the Lord doesn't go with us, we don't want to go. What else distinguishes this study, this group, from the multitude of other things that could be done on a given Monday night? From soccer games or watching tv or going to the store?

"And, what's the point?" my fellow church member asks.

The presence of the Lord Almighty. He has called me, us, to this. With a heart that breaks in gratitude for His goodness and His mercy, I can tell you He is the point. His presence is with us. As we gather with open Bibles and tender hearts, He has been faithful to meet with us. What grace. What condescension. What mercy.

We, like Moses, have asked to see His glory. And we have--the glory of God in the face of Christ as revealed in the pages of His living Word.

I don't know where this journey will lead. At the close of each year of Bible study, I often wonder if there will be another. It's not easy, given my boys' increasingly hectic schedules. If I am honest, I will admit to you that some nights it feels more like a sacrifice than a privilege. But I know this: where the Lord leads, there we will go. May we find favor in His sight!

9 comments:

  1. edbkwigwMy hats off to you. We have been trying to get into a small group since joining our new church and something always comes up. Our lives are so hectic and busy with four teenagers. I am so mentally exhausted so often and there always seems to be a crisis-an injury a broken car...etc...Way to go to stay dedicated! So glad God has blessed you!

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  2. Lisa:
    Never underestimate the impact you're having in the lives of others...one investment at a time. I've led Bible study for 4 years now, and there are many times I grow weary with my doing. However, at the close of each study, I find renewed energy for the next. We're taking the summer off, and I looking for material for the Fall. I would welcome any suggestions that you might have.

    Keep your feet and your faith to the fire of God's perfection in you. He's working it out...even now.

    peace~elaine

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  3. Thank you for all that you do. I wish I could've been there for this study. I miss you guys. Oh, and I thought about you today...I made your chocolate pie! YUM

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  4. Thank you for posting this. We also just ended another year of bible study and I was sort of asking the "what's the point" question.
    Thanks for reminding me that He is the point.
    Bless you!

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  5. I loved reading this! People being faithful and bold for God just warms my heart. It reminded me of my dad growing up. He wanted to hold bible studies for our neighbours (most of whom were non-Christians) and I remember that first night after giving out invites, putting up posters, waiting, waiting to see if anyone would come. One lady came that first night. Then after that no-one came.....we often wondered "What was the point?" Then only a few years ago (about 20 years later) we bumped into that lady and she told us she later became a Christian (we had since moved to another town) and that that night the study planted the first seed in her heart!!!

    So like you say, there is a point, it is so worthwhile, investing in the lives of others for eternity. i love the verse in 1 Cor 4 v 2 "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." Keep up the valuable studies you are doing.

    God Bless, sorry for hijacking the comments! :)

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  6. Your post and these comments are encouraging me a lot today. I've been leading a ladies small group in my home for a few years as well and always fight the blues and weariness at this point of the year. How good to know that it is normal and that I am not alone.
    Thank you for sharing your heart today.
    (I'm new to your blog and look forward to more. Thanks!)

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  7. Loved your answer to "What's the point?" That should be our answer to everything, shouldn't it? How easily I lose sight of it.

    Enjoy your rest from the responsibility over the summer. And trust that God will lead you when it's time to hand over the reins to someone else.

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  8. Lisa:
    Never underestimate the impact you're having in the lives of others...one investment at a time. I've led Bible study for 4 years now, and there are many times I grow weary with my doing. However, at the close of each study, I find renewed energy for the next. We're taking the summer off, and I looking for material for the Fall. I would welcome any suggestions that you might have.

    Keep your feet and your faith to the fire of God's perfection in you. He's working it out...even now.

    peace~elaine

    ReplyDelete
  9. edbkwigwMy hats off to you. We have been trying to get into a small group since joining our new church and something always comes up. Our lives are so hectic and busy with four teenagers. I am so mentally exhausted so often and there always seems to be a crisis-an injury a broken car...etc...Way to go to stay dedicated! So glad God has blessed you!

    ReplyDelete