The first question I asked on last week's homework was for each person to list some impressions of the Bible that they held coming in. As we met under a shade tree outside the coffee shop yesterday morning, "Confusing," was the first reply. Other answers included "long", "boring", and "intimidating". I said that one feeling I have about reading the Bible is that one can never be finished understanding it. Even a scholar who spends his career studying God's word never gets to the end of that process. That makes me feel a little frustrated at times, that I can never fully grasp it.
Next we talked about what each person hoped to get out of reading this book. How did we hope God's story could help us in ours? I think the consensus was that we all desired a little simplification in our lives and in our faith. We complicate things so much; we all long for a return to the basics and a focus on the core truths of God's word.
There were nine of us at the table, and as we continued through the study, some themes quickly arose. I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to find so many of us struggle with shame. That tormenting guilt for our mistakes, past and present, is a real problem amongst women, isn't it? And then there was fear and control. I asked a question in the homework related to this, saying describe a time when you've dealt with fear/control. One woman answered for all of us when she replied, "Ummm, every day?"
The "terrible lie" that we read about this week is alive and well in our lives. I was again reminded how much we need this. And how much we need each other.
I had prayed out loud in my car on the way there yesterday. I don't remember much of what I said, but I do remember asking that each woman participating in this study would find a deep satisfaction in the truth of God's word. We forget, as a people, that we were created to hunger for God and truth. But instead of nourishing ourselves with the rich and satisfying foods of His word, we eat cotton candy all day long. I prayed that these women would taste steak, and long for more.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
It is my soul's own prayer too: Lord, may you continue to wean me off my taste for the ideas, values, and ways of the world. When I consume those things, make them bitter in my mouth. And the more I choose you, your words, and your ways, give me lasting satisfaction and increase my hunger for more.
So did you follow along with us this week?
Here is the homework for next week. I hope you'll join us.
Chapters 4-9, up to page 83, JSB
When you have a quiet half hour or so when you’re less likely to get interrupted, briefly ask God to open your eyes and ears to what He wants to show you. Then, in your notebook, answer these questions. Try to answer them as honestly as you can. Do the questions for yourself.
1. Which story was your favorite this week? Why?
2. We read about the Tower of Babel and how God stopped the plans of His people when they were going to lead them down the wrong path. Can you recall a time when your plans got thwarted and things turned out better for you in the end? Explain.
3. In the story of Abraham, we saw that sometimes God asks us to believe in the impossible. What is something you have a hard time believing about Him? OR Describe a time when God asked you to believe in Him when a situation looked hopeless.
4. In the story of Rachel and Leah, we learned about how God sees His daughters. Make a brief list of some of your faults in your notebook. Then cross them out, one at a time, writing one of these words in its place: Chosen, Beautiful, Loved, Princess. If you feel your own heart resisting, if you find it hard to accept, keep lengthening the list until the truth of how God sees you starts to seep in.
5. Joseph’s story is full of redemption. God used Joseph’s awful and unjust circumstances for His good purposes, and then brought healing and forgiveness back into his broken family. Share one circumstance or relationship that needs redeeming in your life. Take a minute to invite God into that hurt and ask Him to use this part of your story for something good.