Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Are you kidding me? Bible study? No way. Not going to happen. Nope. Not now, maybe never." That was my first response when a friend invited me to Bible Study Fellowship, an international Bible study organization. When I hung up the phone I thought to myself, 'Why would I want to go and listen to a bunch of women complaining about their lives, their problems, and, their (God forbid) emotions! Satisfied, I went on my merry way.

As our teaching leader said last night, I was beginning to feel nagged. Again and again my friend suggested I just try it. "Come on," she said, "What the heck are you afraid of? What's there to lose? If you don't like it, you don't have to come back." She patiently explained that this Bible study truly was the study of the Bible, not a hanging out of everyone's dirty laundry. Still, I didn't trust her. After about 4 months, she finally wore me down and I agreed to go...once. I was comforted by the fact that the study was not associated with a particular church, but was an ecumenical approach.

I walked into the church and was met with a sea of women's faces. I had no idea so many women studied the Bible. There must have been about 250 women in the sanctuary. I found my way to an inconspicuous corner and sat down.

After a couple of hymns and a prayer, the hostess behind the pulpit, invited all new attendees to stay in the sanctuary while all the others got up and left. 'Where are they going? Here it comes.' I thought to myself. There were about 5 of us left behind. The lady explained we were studying the Minor Prophets. I had no idea what she was talking about. She said there would be a lesson to be completed each week, discussion to follow in a small group with a discussion leader, a lecture in the sanctuary after that, a fellowship lunch once a month, and plenty of people to help us find our way around the Bible.

That first week I waited until the night before at 8 p.m. to begin my lesson. As I dug in I quickly realized this was not going to be a walk in the park. This really was Bible study. The questions, while pertinent to the lesson, took us all over the Bible for reinforcement of the lesson. Struggling to complete it, I thought, "Are all those other women going to finish this? I doubt it." About 2 a.m. I put my pencil down and went to bed.

When we gathered the following week, I was amazed to see that not only had every one of the women in my group completed the lesson, but they were discussing it and nothing else: no movies, no books, no politics, no friendly conversations, no getting off message, no delays, no People magazine, New York Times, or family problems came up. The only thing that came up was Nehemiah 1:6 and the Reconstruction of the Walls of Jerusalem, which was very odd to me, but rather interesting.

The next week my attitude was even worse. I started my lesson a little earlier thinking to myself, "This bunch isn't going to get the best of me." I slammed into the lesson and finished up about 2 a.m. again.

The following week, I stared at my paper about 4 days before the lesson was due. Picking it up, I took a deep breath and began.

God pursues those who are against Him. He's the hound of heaven. If you run, He gives chase. He's on a mission. He's on a combat operation against His enemy, sin. His goal is to rescue the sinner, clean him up and welcome him to eternal life with Him. BUT, there is that little mystery of human faith combining with divine appointment. Somewhere in the night during one of my late evenings, the two intermingled and I understood this Bible was written for me. This God was mine. Jesus slipped out of the shadows of my mind and walked boldly into my heart. Will you hear Him out? Will you listen to His voice? What have you got to lose?