“I’m starting my very first Bible study.” It doesn’t matter to me if it’s one of Priscilla Shirer’s, Kelly Minter’s, Jennie Allen’s, Kay Arthur’s, or any other Bible study author’s series. It moves me every time I hear it because nothing has brought me more fascination
and PURE GOD-BELIEVING FAITH than the Spirit of God stirring up my heart and mind through the pages of Scripture. I have had such a blast with Him there, ruined for less than a lifetime spent with Him in those glorious phrases. When I hear that somebody is just beginning to journey with Christ through a cracked-open Bible, my heart skips a beat and my memory stirs up a whirlwind. I remember my first in-depth journey so well and how a light came on in my soul and how I could hardly stand to shut my Bible at the end of the day or wait to open it the next morning. I’d put my kids on the school bus in the morning and dart back inside and pull out my Bible and the notes I’d taken the day before. I’d somehow stumbled across this thing called a “tabernacle” in the pages of Exodus during my Scripture reading one day and I could not get enough. I read and read, flipping back and forth from the Old Testament to the New. I bought my first Strong’s Concordance and looked up every place I could find the word “tabernacle.” That was all I knew to do but it was enough. Then I started getting commentaries and reading books theologians had written on it. When that journey was over, I fell into honest-to-goodness despair because I was certain I’d never experience anything like that again. I was wrong. Praise God.
“I just finished the last page of _____________________ Bible study.” (Often I’ll get a picture of that final page, complete with their own handwritten answers to questions on it. And don’t think I don’t enlarge them and read them either. I don’t have this nose because I’m not nosy.)
Listen, to finish an in-depth Bible study series is no small accomplishment in this increasingly attention-deficit culture. For people (like me!) who are becoming conditioned to sound bites and a sum total of 140 characters, getting through a Bible study course that demands anywhere from 6-10 weeks of 4-5 hours of homework a week is titanic. You are already an exception to the cultural rule by the time you finish the third week. Somebody needs to tell you what a stud you are for finishing one. So, today, I’m volunteering. You’re a stud.
“I’m doing Breaking Free.” I don’t care who it is, those words get to me every time. That series nearly killed me to write – the warfare was hellacious – but the study also means the most to me personally. I’ll tell you when those words get to me most: when they’re coming from a young woman – college age – who has not yet walked down the aisle with a man carrying more baggage than a 10-armed bellhop. It’s NEVER too late to find liberty in Christ. Never! I don’t care if you’ve been married half a dozen times or you’re on the cusp of your eighty-fourth birthday. But facing and dealing with some bondage prior to decisions that change a whole life-trajectory is less painful by a long shot. Of course, we’ve got to do more than finish a study. We’ve got to actually enter into full fellowship with Christ in those pages and receive His words down into our bones as doers of the Word and not hearers only. In the words of James, “humbly welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21 The NET)
“God got me through cancer treatment with His Word.” I have no greater respect for a sister in Bible study than the one who sticks to it and keeps her face to the page and her heart open to the heavens when her prayers have been answered differently than she hoped and no one would blame her if she shut her Bible. Nothing has moved me more through the years than hearing from a small Bible study group that one of their own who was battling terminal cancer literally studied the Word of God until she could no longer hold her eyes open and God carried her Home. They’ll often send me pictures of her and tell me how they miss her and how she challenged them to be faithful to the very last breath. Flabbergasts me every time and makes me hope and pray to be faithful under such strain and able to say with that sister, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
“I caught the Bible study bug. I’ll study the Scriptures for the rest of my life.” That’s it right there. It doesn’t get better than that. No book is like the Bible because no other book is gorgeously laced with living, breathing words of God. I love Christ’s claim in John 6:63 – “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.” A lifetime is not long enough to get to the bottom of the immense, unimaginable riches that can be found in Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) You’ll just never waste a second in the Scriptures. That’s the long and short of it.
“I’m teaching my first Bible study class.” To see God raise up young teachers is one of the greatest highs of my entire life. To see them study hard and start practicing the disciplines that Bible teaching demands and not just seeking a platform is incredibly thrilling to me. There is no short cut to it. Teaching still takes the same kinds of things it took in the first century: spiritual gifting, perseverance, diligent study, the work of the Holy Spirit, profuse prayer and enough people skills for people to be able to stand us. And, on top of that, it subjects us to stricter judgment just like James 3:1 says but, if we’re called, we’ve got to get out there and do it anyway and receive the difficulties as discipline. A fiery passion alone cannot sustain us. We must also have obedience and follow-through and the capacity to get back up especially after we’ve been harshly criticized. And we will be. That’s part of the growing process. That’s part of God testing our mettle. Proving us genuine.
My man needs me so I’m going to have to close. I’ve rambled enough anyway. I meant for this to be about a paragraph long but, of course, y’all know me. That’ll be the day. All this came from one little tweet I got today from a woman who said she’d just finished a Bible study. And I thought to myself,
I never get over hearing that.
Good grief, I love y’all so much. Stay in the Scriptures.