Monday, July 23, 2012

Meeting Together: Women's Bible Study

This is part of a series on Stones of Remembrance as I remember the hand of God in my life.

As I sat on the scratchy avocado green pews of my church during the fall of 2001 my eyes were continuously drawn to the Sunday morning bulletin. It had been on my mind for days and I could not shake the feeling that I was supposed to be a part of the study advertised there. This all meant that I needed to quit a part-time job. A decision that I knew would not be popular and would be met with some resistance. I did not like to cause tension or to make things uncomfortable for people. I rarely made phone calls because I was always afraid that I would be interrupting someone with the shrill ring of my call. So, deciding to tell my boss that I was quitting a job after only a few weeks made me extremely uncomfortable.

However, God was telling me to quit that job. God was asking me to obey him. To do something “difficult” and to choose what He wanted for my life. He would not let me ignore Him. It was more uncomfortable to knowingly disobey a simple step of obedience that God was asking me to do than to have a small amount of confrontation in my life. Compared to things He would later ask of me – making something inconvenient for the manage of a clothing store seems like nothing at all – but at the time it was a decision that produced great anxiety.

In future times when remembering this moment I will sit amazed at how inconsequential it seems to quit a 10 hour a week job. In truth though, it was a turning point in my life. For the first time I was making a decision that I knew was a specific thing God had asked me to do. It required me to disregard the opinions of a superior. As small of a thing it seemed to be, it would be this decision that would start my life on a new path.

Later that week, the gravel crunched under my tires as I steered my car to park in between the trees in front of the church. I had no idea who would be in there. I knew I would most likely be the youngest member of the group by far. I didn’t know what to expect – I just knew God had asked me to obey and I finally said yes without any limitations.

Soon the room was full with about 15 women. There were women who wore jeans and a t-shirt and came armed with stories from days with their children. Women who look polished in their button down shirts, dark skirts, and high heels. There were women whose eyes held the quiet wisdom of a life that gave them soft wrinkles around their smiles. We all found our seat at the table with a cup of coffee and a plate of snacks as the leader got our attention.

Introductions were made, the format explained, and then screen of a TV quickly filled with the opening theme music of Beth Moore’s Jesus The One and Only. We studied together every Thursday night that fall. These women became integral parts of my life for that season. We shared the burdens of our individual lives, of which I did not feel I had many, and the truths God was teaching us, of which I had more than I ever imagined. I fell head-over-heels in love with Jesus over the next few months. Thursday nights became the highlight of my life as I excitedly listened to hear what God was doing in the lives of the other women in my group and shared what he was showing me. I will never forget those mornings of reading through the book of Luke and learning so much about the character and heart of our Lord.

In the little over a decade since that first Women's Bible Study I have participated in dozens more in the various cities and towns in which I have lived. I have been blessed to open my home to them and have felt the joy at women gathered together in my living room with Bibles balanced on their lap and coffee in hand as we discussed the word of God. I have sat waiting for an hour when no one showed up, quietly putting away the food and asking God to give me faith and patience. I have had the blessing of going into the homes of others - sometimes as a participant, sometimes as the facilitator. I have been a part of groups that were energetic and opinionated. Groups that were quiet and thoughtful. I have always been blessed.

As I prepare to transition to a new city once again, I leave behind a group of women who have faithfully opened the word of God with me on Thursday nights for the past year. I am indebted to their honesty and their grace in allowing me to be honest.

I will miss them as I miss the other women who have studied and prayed with me over the last decade, but I know that God will provide the encouragement and fellowship for me once again, and that makes me excited to see what other women will become a part of my story.

This stone of remembrance is for that first act of obedience that lead me to the first study and for all the women in the past eleven years who have encouraged me and taught me the word of God while we shared coffee while sitting in tight circles balancing Bibles and study books on our knees.

Other Stones of Remembrance:
Scripture in My Childhood
The Church That Built Me
Ode to the Internet
When You Return: Faith Refined

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