Every Wednesday morning I teach a women's Bible study. We've been meeting together for 2 years. This week, we begin our winter/spring study for 2014. I'm calling it "Love Story." I'm so excited about this study!
If you're like me, your holidays were spent making everything special—the most special it could be for the people you love. How special is special enough? I've been thinking about that for several months, and I've begun to think that we really wrestle with the need to feel special. We are pressured by everyone else's pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. What a fabulous time they're having! What an incredible recipe they just made! What a fantastic new makeover they just gave their living room! Look at their new boyfriend! Their engagement ring! Their wedding pictures! Their kids! Their new job! Their vacation!
We can begin to feel that we must go out and make the same magical things happen, get those things for ourselves, or we aren't special enough.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that we are indeed very special, chosen and loved by God and destined for an incredible purpose:
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.)
We cannot make ourselves special enough. But God already has. He has set his heart on us. He has a present and future to bring us that is part of eveything he's been doing since the creation of the world. And he delights to bring us that life. That's the good news we call The Gospel. That's the story of the Bible.
I noticed two things in our Bible study last fall:
First, I'm not sure we believe this about ourselves. Second, I'm pretty sure we're afraid we don't know how to tell it to others. I feel that way! So I'm very excited about tackling those two problems together in our next Bible study, and here's how we're going to do it, in a fun but challenging new way:
We're going to learn to tell Bible stories.
We're going to learn 18 Bible stories together, stories that tell us about the long-range plan God has for us, the very special role we play in his story, and the way he delivers that life to us. We'll learn about women like Rahab, who jumped at the chance to have that kind of life; Sarah, who doubted that God could deliver on his special promise and schemed a way to get it herself; the Israelites, who doubted that God could take them into their promised life and so wandered in the wilderness for 40 years; and the Samaritan woman at the well, who didn't believe she was included in the promise, but wound up telling everyone in her village about Jesus, the one who knew everything about her and offered her a new life. Each week, we'll learn a new story, and each week we'll practice telling it.
Yep, telling it. Because I'm betting that we're not the only ones who wonder if we are special enough, who feel the need to go out and achieve a "special enough life" for themselves. We're surrounded by neighbors and friends and family members who feel the same way. We can tell them a story that could set them free of that.
In learning these stories, we're going to deal with lots of things: shame, fear, worthiness, belonging, grace, identity, purpose, faith, receiving.
I'm also going to post the homework hand out each week, so you can download it and keep up with us, even if you don't make it to the class. The homework has some questions for you to consider and journal about. But the most important question is this:
Who will you tell the story to this week?
This is good news; it's meant to be shared. Pray about it and watch for the opportunity you'll have to say, "Have you heard the story about….?"
So here we go:
Ready to learn how we get written into God's love story?
Here's the story of Rahab.
Who did you tell this story to? I'd love to hear about it.