Surrendering Our Plans for His
My women’s Bible study group starts back tonight. I lay in bed last night and reminisced about my journey. It was 19 years ago I began attending a small group. I was unimaginably broken at the time but I had made a promise to God that if He took over my life, helped me, saved me; that I was all His. I showed up at the woman’s door anxious and afraid. I had this warped perception of what Christians would be like, what they would talk about, if they would judge the hot mess I was. At the time I knew very little about the Bible. I thought they would judge me for that too. Instead I found a welcoming safe place with people just like me. I made life-long friends. I found a place where I could be me.
I began thinking about where I was that day and where I am now. Many groups later. Many Bible studies done. It has been a roller coaster of a journey along the way. There is this tendency to try to force God’s will in our lives. To think if I only reached more people or if I did things differently I would have a bigger impact. There is a tendency for us to make plans and then ask God to bless them. We have a limited amount of time and we want to invest it wisely. Over the years I have made many plans how I could serve God best. Often my plans are not His plans. I see that with my women’s group now and I get emotional how it came about.
It’s a long story but I was asked to start an evening women’s Bible study group for the church. One didn’t exist at the time. Do to a staff change and new staff not knowing our group existed and old staff forgetting about us, not one new person from the church joined my group that Fall. Actually some left my group and joined the church’s new evening group. The church had made new plans and our group hadn’t been included in those plans. Not going to lie, my feelings were hurt. But as a result of what happened I opened my group up to women who had mentioned to me they wanted to be in a Bible study. I continuously prayed over the group and He brings who He wants in it.
And what a group it has turned out to be! What had hurt me years ago has turned out to be a profound blessing in my life.
The women go to different churches and are from different denominations. We presently have 3 Catholic women in the group! Do you know how unusual that is to have Catholics and Protestants studying God’s Word together? Highly unusual. It has served to break down the stereotypes we had of each other. We are multi-generational with the youngest being 30 years old and the oldest being 69 years old. We have various levels of knowledge of the Bible but we are learning together and growing each other.
There are two women who drive 35 and 40 minutes respectively to come to weekly Bible study! There are women who work full time and are so exhausted by evening but show up week after week. Talk about commitment! In the past I’ve had women ask if I would do an online Bible study, but frankly the logistics of doing that were too much for me. The pandemic forced it though. As a result women who were unable to come to my house are now able to join the study. We even have one woman from out of state joining us! With all that is going on in the world right now so many people are hurting. As a result of this they want to get into Bible study. Women who had dropped out of our group years ago wanted to come back. New women wanted to join. And our group doubled from a month ago. I smile as I see God's hand working.
And talk about passion! The enthusiasm of these women is contagious! They want to learn. They want to grow. They are purposeful in their spiritual journey. They do their “homework” and join in the conversation. I started out so passionate too and off and on over the last 19 years I sometimes lose that passion. This particular group of women keep me fueled! They are filled with excitement to learn and curiosity to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. I'm a bit geeky and they like that! Do you know how unusual that is to find people that are on the same page as me? We don't do fluffy studies - having tackled introduction to theology, another world religion and learning apologetics. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea. But they seem to find it fascinating. Ha!
I had planned last year to do this Fall study on having a heart for God. What better thing to study right now with all that is going on in our lives? I am expectant for God to change us. To transform our hearts. I have this feeling that great things are about to happen. And I am super excited to watch it and to experience it.
I am no longer teaching Bible classes. I took them off my website in 2019. There was a certain amount of sadness in doing that. I had thought that was what God wanted me to be doing with my life. I knew my classes were good. I had invested years into the research and development of them. Students loved them and would get very excited learning about the Bible. I know that was His will for me at that time, but not right now for some reason. I don't know why, but I long ago quit trying to figure out where He is headed with all of this.
Yes, I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing exactly what God wants me to be doing. He orchestrated it all. From that first night when a frightened broken woman stepped up to that door and said, “Here I am God. Teach me. Grow me. Use me.” - to where I am right now – it has been quite the journey so far! Along the way when I got off the path, He brought me back. I am emotional thinking about the steps forward and the steps backwards and the overall journey of it all to be right here right now.
There was a lesson to be learned in this that I could only see from a distance and after time. What God wants us to be doing changes as the needs of the world change. We need to learn to be flexible and available; to let Him lead us; to let Him be our Shepherd; to put our circumstances in His hands; to put our plans in His hands; and to trust Him to work it all out. That is what He does. We weren’t meant to bear the burden alone. I now see Matthew 11:28-30 in a whole new light.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.