It’s interesting to me as I sit here preparing to write to you that I’m realizing that somewhere down in my heart and mind remains the notion that Bible study is an activity on my calendar; an item on my checklist; just one item among many that I am supposed to do.
I go to Bible study each week. Check. I complete my homework and get to satisfyingly fill out my little blue card. Check. I memorize my Bible verse. Check. I type up the weekly email. Check.
But this week was one of those weeks that we all have. The calendar items and to-do list didn’t go quite as I had planned. Thursday night was opening night for the spring musical at Christian Academy. Our daughter has one of the main roles. At 4 am our bedroom door sprang open as she stood in the doorway and told me she was sick. I stayed with her as she was sick multiple times over the next few hours. We were both brokenhearted and worried.
So I’m seeing all the more that this isn’t just a Bible study we are doing. It’s not meant to be just another item on our to-do list. We aren’t there to be inspired. The Bible isn’t just any other book. The words aren’t “cosmic suggestions” as I once heard somebody say. Jesus isn’t an idea or philosophy.
This is real life. This is discipleship. We gather together each week to learn how to really live out life with a new heart. “And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26b). This is for real.
We are there to learn how to really put away our anger. For real. To really put to death our covetousness. To stop walking in the ways we all used to walk in and still do walk in. To learn what it means to put on love and live for the One who died for us so that we would no longer live for ourselves.
“…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
I have been asking the Lord to grow my faith. I have confessed my unbelief. I have prayed Psalm 139 asking the Lord to show me the grievous ways in my heart and lead me in the way everlasting. And then He answered. For real.
It wasn’t the answer I had hoped for. I just wanted Him to change my heart in one fell swoop. I didn’t want to go through any suffering in the process. I want to live on Easy Street. But a dear friend recently reminded me of Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We had nowhere else to go yesterday but to the Lord. We prayed and asked for prayer. I asked the Lord for the grace to trust Him and to not question or doubt His goodness, even if it would be that our daughter would not be able to do something she has waited to do for years.
The temptation to fear was huge. I could feel my stomach in knots. But God was so good. He poured out His mercy and grace so abundantly. In so many varied ways. In ways we would have never known had things gone according to my way, i.e. completely smoothly in the first place! The love of Christ that we experienced over the past 24 hours was immense.
I thank the Lord for healing my daughter. I did not think there was any way she would be able to perform that night. Not only did she perform, the people who were in the audience who did not know how sick she had been earlier that day, would never have known from her performance! It was so beautiful to see the grace of God unfold before my very eyes! She performed in all four shows and grew stronger in each one. My heart soared in worship of our great God for His lovingkindness to my daughter.
It is a day in her life that she and I will never forget. It is a day that she will one day recall when she is 48 years old and her small group asks her to share a time in her life when she saw the Lord work.
I thank the Lord for this study. I thank the Lord for the gift of the body of Christ. To know I am not alone. I am so weak. I need to be taught how to follow. I need the body to continually point me back to God’s truth. To continually help me to lift my eyes above my circumstances. I need godly sisters in Christ to speak truth to my heart that hurts to hear because my heart is still hard. We all need grace upon grace.
I am thanking the Lord for the gift of prayer and the gift of confession. I am asking for grace to truly believe the truth of His Word that says that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. That is real.
May we all continue to ask for more grace to set our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth. May we set our hearts and our minds on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Learning to Live in the Garden of Grace