Two posts ago (here), I talked about getting lost and drifting away from some important truths, like who God is and who I am and what it means to trust God. You know, little truths like that, those foundational ones that make the difference between loving God and being afraid of God, between victorious living/spiritual growth and, again, being afraid of God. Yeah, I had a little bit of fear going on.
This fall, God decided it was time for me to quit sitting around in my boat drifting, letting every current sweep me here and there. The oars were in the boat, and yet my arms hung at my sides, useless. I was lazy. I was tired. Maybe sad, because I let that inner voice, the one who is a mean girl, say terrible things to me about my successes (or lack of such), my age, my friendships, my history, all reminders that I’m not the greatest thing to hit the planet. God had had enough of my wallowing, so he picked up my hands and set them on the oars and told me, in no uncertain terms, to row the boat.
But I don’t know what direction. I don’t have a plan. I’m not good at anything. I fail a lot. Surely I’ll just row in circles or find an abandoned island and continue to be alone. What if rowing the boat doesn’t get me anywhere?
Row. The. Boat.
Last fall, my church participated in the Community Bible Experience. As a church, we read the New Testament in two months. We met in small groups and discussed the reading. I hadn’t had a Bible reading plan for a while. But with this group, I did. If the Word of God is the oars of my boat, then the CBE, for those eight weeks, was my map. I had a direction. I had a plan. I rowed that boat, and I wasn’t adrift.
God blessed me those two months. Anyone who’s ever been in a Bible study group with me will assure you that I am completely useless in a Bible study group. This is not me underestimating myself. This is the truth. I am an introvert among introverts, and faced with a group of people, I shut up. Rarely do I make a peep. And yet, God set me in the most amazing group. My oldest son, who hadn’t pursued God in some time, participated. My youngest son participated. The leader’s wife was as introverted as I was. Everyone was simply easy to be with. And the Spirit, tired of being ignored while I drifted, sort of jumped up and down and forced my lips open, and I think I might have talked during every single meeting. Sometimes more than once. I shared spiritual truths God was speaking to me. It was surreal.
The greatest part of the CBE was that we didn’t answer set questions. Each week, we simply expressed what we had learned in our reading. What had touched us. That open-ended discussion led us in all kinds of directions. It meant whatever direction God sent me in during the week was okay for discussion, too. Usually Bible study questions try to lead where the writer wants to go, and I never want to go there. I always seem to forge my own path, and with CBE, I could do that. All of us did, and we loved skipping along the paths of the others in the group. If those paths crossed or loop-de-looped, that was fine. As long as we were honest and shared our paths, it was all good.
As I said, God greatly blessed that time. My hands were back to the oars. I was sweating and working, and a person sweating and working has less time to wallow and worry and overthink and create false narratives for herself and God. And I was sharing spiritual insights, and the responses of the group said maybe I wasn’t as lost as I’d thought. Maybe I was a daughter after all.
So, drifting became motion. I was still somewhat at sea. The mean girl was still in there lying about who I was and how God sees me. But I had put my hands back on the oars. I’d let the Spirit use my lips in a group. Communication between my oldest son and me began a time of restoration. I knew that if I kept rowing, I would be okay.
And that’s true, although it’s never quite that easy, is it? I was now rowing, but I had a few storms to row through, some choppy waters to navigate. And those, of course, we’ll continue to tackle as the story unfolds.