I am a slow learner.
My husband, daughters and I attend a wonderful church in Gretna, Nebraska called Journey Church. I love everything about it. The music, the sermons, the Facebook community and the beautiful people who make up the church.
We meet in a middle school gym – in the same building where I attended high school. The stage where Pastor Phil preaches about grace and love is the stage I walked across to receive my high school diploma over twenty years ago.
Being a small church that meets in a middle school means we rely on other to churches in the community to provide some of the learning and ministry opportunities for our congregation, which is actually a wonderful way to break out of our church family and denomination mold to meet other Christians in different walks of life.
Over the last few years I attended two different women’s Bible studies at the Gretna United Methodist Church. In both of these studies I learned a lot and felt a very clear tugging from God to make some changes in my life.
GIDEON, by Priscilla Shirer, August 2014
When I read the brief announcement in my church’s newsletter about a neighboring church offering a Bible study, I was interested. The Facebook invite for the study said: “Here is a synopsis from the back of the workbook: ‘God can use your weakness. Do you feel overwhelmed? Inexperienced? Intimidated? Insufficient? Too old? Too young? Too invisible? Too afraid? Gideon’s story involves far more than a wet fleece and a battle won with 300 soldiers. His epic victory actually tells of one man’s struggle with his own weakness — and the One True God who transformed it into triumph. So if you’ve ever struggled with insecurity or had trouble accepting your limitations, this study will help you see how God can use your weakness to unlock His strength. Yes, Gideon can attest — weakness is a gift.’”
I started the study excited to see what God would teach me. I really thought He’d show me some huge mission he had for me to save the world.
But looking back I wonder if I was even listening. Or just looking and walking away without applying it to my life.
James 1:23-25 – New International Version (NIV)
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Looking at my handwritten notes in the margins in my study guide, I can see I was asking important questions and gaining insight as God was shining his truth into my life through Priscilla Shirer.
– “I often put my job before God, my husband, kids, etc.”
– “My calling as a wife and mom is NO less important than the callings of Abraham, Moses or Gideon. I need to do it to the BEST of my ability.”
– What realm of life do you think God wants you concentrating on while doing this study? Don’t overlook the ordinary or minimize your role in a larger arena. Let Him Lead your thinking and trust him to equip you for whatever He inspires: “My relationship with God and my role as wife and Mom. I need to prove myself in these areas first.”
– “Life is all about choices and every day we choose who we will serve – God, ourselves or other “gods” that enslave us. A daily, hourly choice. Who will I serve? And every choice has a consequence. We choose the path but not the outcome. I need to be diligent about making a daily choice to serve Jesus.”
– “Quit watching Sons of Anarchy.”
– “I should never make any career choices that impede my calling as a follower of Jesus, wife and mother.”
Hindsight is 50/50.
Reading my notes from 2014 I wish I’d taken more time to explore how God wanted me to apply those nuggets of truth.
At that time I didn’t re-align my priorities. I didn’t spend more time with my husband or kids. I didn’t make Jesus my first priority.
The only real change I made was to stop watching Sons of Anarchy (and believe me that wasn’t easy . . . my secret fantasy of someday being in a motorcycle gang went up in smoke!)
The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst, January 2015
I started The Best Yes study about four months after ending the Gideon life study. My only application/life change from the Gideon study was to quit watching Sons of Anarchy. And, in those few months between the studies, I had also taken on a lot more work. Business was booming.
And the more business grew, the less time I spent with Jesus.
I was actively making career choices that were impediments to my walk with Jesus as I grew more and more busy.
In January 2015, I was again blessed by the women at the Gretna United Methodist Church and the Lysa TerKeurst’s video series they shared. And my questions became more pointed and the answers more clear:
– “What is God’s priority for my life?”
– “I say ‘yes’ to work and clients to make money and grow business; but if I get too busy and stressed my children and husband suffer.”
– “If I get too busy and let my priorities slide my walk with Jesus takes a back seat which hurts everything else.”
Even with clear questions and answers, I am a slow learner. Or at least I’m very slow in moving from learning and observing to actually making life changes.
Romans 7:15-20 – English Standard Version (ESV)
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
I had written down a prayer in my “The Best Yes” study guide . . . “Lord, please give me an undivided heart. Help me to focus on you in all things and prioritize my time with you above anything else.”
God was listening.
And even though I am slow to learn and even slower to put His wisdom into action, God was at work.
He was starting a revival in my heart and answering my prayers in ways I couldn’t imagine.