My best friend and I were both in the same boat for different reasons: we were spiritually dry, wanting more of God, but lacking energy, time, and (for me at least) general motivation. So we decided to do a Bible study together. Instant accountability, structured time in the Word, and definitely enjoyment too- as it'd mean extra (and regular) time together! I was so excited! Well, we didn't even get to meeting together once, before "just us" turned into 3, then 4, then 5... The study started and we kept adding more girls too! God kept putting different girlfriends on my heart or hers, and it's been so wonderful to see who's been brought into the mix. At the height, we totalled 9 ladies, and are currently at 7. ALL of these gals are just gems. We've all been friends for anywhere from 5 to 9 years, at different levels of friendship interpersonally- some never met before. We all agree though: this group feels like home. I absolutely love my little group, and am so grateful for this gift- exactly what I needed, and God knew.
We chose the Beth Moore study "The Patriarchs: Encountering The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". Not really my choice, because of course I already knew all about those Patriarchs, and didn't really think there'd be too much Mrs. Moore could extract from those old familiar stories. But... of course... I was wrong. :)
Almost immediately, the subject matter proved to be hard for me to go through, as topics like marriage, covenant, abandonment, and especially reconciliation have all been touched on in one week or another. I'll be honest... the resulting effect is that I usually put off doing my study till Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week (we meet on Thursdays), rush through stuff, and don't take time to ponder, reflect, internalize, etc. I really hate that divorce is the immediate filter that I see/hear everything through now. Every personal question the book asks I relate back to the divorce. But I guess you could say it's been very timely, since marriage, covenant, abandonment and especially reconciliation is all I can ever think of anyway. The week that dug into that specific topic (in the context of reconciling Jacob and Esau), my Divorce Care group was going through the chapter on reconciliation as well, AND the Mars Hill sermon of that current week was "Jesus Reconciles Us". I felt like I was getting beated up! "You don't have to tell me!!", as I figuratively shook my fist in Heaven's direction.
"We need to drop off our destructive, heavy baggage at the foot of the cross then tarry there for healing until God loads us with treasures to carry into our futures... the very season that seems least likely to bear fruit may be the place of your Ephraim portion." (Ephraim means "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction".) "If we don't wise up to it and ask God to help us change, we can transfer an unhealthy pattern in one relationship to another." (Been there, done that.) "Only the most misshapen ego sees conflict resolution as straightening out only the other party. One side may have more work to do, but rarely is the other completely blameless." (That one cuts deep because of how my personal story played out.)
"When Satan asks God to mess with us, God will tell him NO unless there is a yes to a greater glory... Our only hope of ever healing from a devastation is to believe in God's Sovereignty, to see God as still on His throne regardless of my circumstances... In God's process of restoring interpersonal relationships, don't expect to reach the same emotions at the same time. 'The resurfacing of dialogue between Joseph and his brothers spells out the end of alienation.' It doesn't mean nothing is happening... Even if the other person takes a while, don't give up the ground God has given me. Stay where your heart is healthy, you're able to express what's on your heart, you're able to confess the sovereignty of God over your situation, and you are thinking 'God thoughts' from scripture- being assured that all will be ok because God is in control... God's way is to DEAL with stuff. 'Living' stuff that's buried will resurface."God still on the throne, huh. This one thing has been the most incredible struggle of my Christian life over the last 6 months. If He is still on the throne, then why???? Because there might be a greater glory down the road??? I can only hope. It's the ONLY reason I keep praying at all. My only prayer is that God will redeem, restore, reconcile, renew, re-establish.
In the meantime, I have these awesome girls that I get to spend Thursday nights with. They've been so encouraging, loving, graceful, wise... And I am so grateful.
Holding out for that greater glory...
Psalm 27:14- "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" - ESV
* Quotes taken from "The Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", by Beth Moore. Pages 197-217, and session 9 on the DVDs. LifeWay Press, 2005.