Monday, February 9, 2015

Sometimes God Asks You to Skip Bible Study

Sometimes God asks you to skip Bible study.

I know. Not really what you’d expect is it? Bible study is good. Fellowship with other believers is good. Showing up when you’ve committed to something is good.
All good.
But not always best.

I will fully admit that when I skipped Bible study, I didn’t expect God to do anything super special. In fact, I didn’t fully realize He was the one behind it.

I was tired, not quite recovered from a week of doctors visits, sore throats, swollen ears and fevers. Looking at the week ahead and the items on the calendar, I sensed that something needed to give. Something had to go. 
I prayed about my day, about my week, for insight into how to get it all in. Were there things I could give up? Maybe I could run my errands in the evening? Or push back a few of my self-imposed deadlines? Maybe I could move a few things from this week to next week?
I could have done all of those things, but I had a nagging sense that I needed to skip Bible study.

I fought it.

For one thing, I co-lead our group. Leaders are supposed to show up. 
For another, I’m the kind of person who, once committed to something, sees it through. I wasn’t running a fever. I wasn’t contagious. All the kids went to school. Sure, I was running on fumes and still had a nasty cough, but there was no good reason not to go. 
And, most annoying, not showing up would make me look bad. I expend a lot of energy trying to avoid that. (I’d like to tell you that I’m a recovering people pleaser and that I used to seek approval from the people I interact with. But that would indicate that I’ve somehow gotten over those traits. The truth is I fight them. Hourly).

There’s nothing wrong with being conscientious. There’s nothing wrong with having a strong work ethic, with following through on what you say you’ll do, on showing up.

Except when God’s nudging you to do something different.

It would be easier if God would write this stuff on my calendar. If, when I opened to today’s date, I found “Bible study” crossed out and “Divine Appt. - Target - 10:30 a.m.” written in. Then I would know what to do and I wouldn’t suffer any angst about it. (Is it sacrilegious to wish God had a red Sharpie?)

Maybe as I continue to seek God’s will, to lean into the Spirit throughout the day, maybe someday I’ll recognize these nudges for what they are. 

As it was, when the opportunity presented itself—one that started safely in my comfort zone and quickly spiraled out of it—I was stunned for a moment. Then it all started to come into focus I should have been a little scared, but I wasn’t, because that same sense that had nudged me to skip Bible study made it clear.
This was why.
It wasn’t a big thing, but it was. 
It would be easy to chalk it up to coincidence, but it wasn’t. 

A few weeks ago, one of my sons asked me why I go to Bible study. We talked for a long time about how big God is. About how He wants us to know Him, but He is so huge, we can study Him our entire lives, and we won’t even come close to knowing all there is to know about Him. How He will always have more to reveal about Himself to us, if we are paying attention. 

Today, He got my attention.
He asked me to skip Bible study.
And then He took me on an adventure with Him.
I can’t help but wonder….how many adventures have I missed?

"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."
"I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures.  Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


Sandra said...

You can't stop there!! What was the adventure??? Also, is that Bilbo's house in the picture??

Beth said...

So good and just you saying no and walking out of your comfort zone and coming to the realization that the Holy Spirit was at work sooner than your norm is evidence of growth...incredible growth that you are seeking to walk in step with the Spirit! Beautiful to watch my friend!

Susie said...

I'm with Sandra. I want to hear the rest of the story!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Sandra & Mom - we can talk about it later. :-) I'm not going to post it here because that wasn't the point. If I spell it out, then it becomes about that specific situation instead of being applicable to multiple situations. And besides, it *really* wasn't a big deal. The big deal was what God is teaching me. :-)

And no - it's not Bilbo's house, but isn't it cool!?

Beth - thanks - and thank for encouraging me to write about it. :-)

Vonda Skelton said...

Beautiful reminder that God isn't interested in our checklist. Thanks, sweet friend.

BlueDeacon said...

Years ago I was involved in a men's Bible study that met on Mondays but got a call to join a big band. I had for years wanted to play big-band jazz again, so I went with it -- and not only am I becoming more proficient as an instrumentalist but have even had the opportunities to flex my muscle as an arranger, gifts that God has given me.

Wendie said...

Hi Lynn- Just found your blog through Write Life Workshop. I can relate to everything in this post. I, too, am a study leader/lover. I am annoyingly nagged by "looking good" and am conscientious about commitment. (Can I just add that I'm worn out typing those comments?) Recently, I decided to sign up for a women's study while wintering in FL. I'd participated elsewhere years ago, but wanted to make some new friends and have a disciplined study while here. Went the first night and fidgeted the whole time internally. On the prayerful drive home, I realized God was telling me "I don't want you there right now." Yep - I know where he does want me (not divulging) and I need stop running to my Nineva and step up! Thanks for this post and the affirmation it provides. I'll be checking back.