bible study or BIBLE STUDY?!

Bible StudyIt happened many years ago but I remember it as though it were yesterday. While attending the Bonn American Protestant Church in Germany, I had the challenge and joy of teaching the high schoolers on Sunday mornings before the sanctuary worship service began. Imagine a mini-United Nations: teens from Canada, England, Scotland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the U.S., and other countries I can’t recall at the moment.

Until we outgrew the space, we met in a corner of the basement curtained off from the “little kids” and it was in that unprepossessing area that something happened one Sunday to remind me that eager minds and hearts (of any age) are just waiting to be filled with the Bible’s truth when presented with creativity and well thought-through questions. In that environment, truth captivates and excites.

I don’t recall the topic for the morning, but the teens’ minds were curious and the discussion lively. The time neared for ending the session in order to move to worship upstairs, but opinions, thoughts, questions, comments (many controversial!) flew around the circle with no attention to the clock. Finally I slipped upstairs to inform the ushers that we would be extending our class time and parents shouldn’t be worried about the absence of their teenagers. It was another hour and a half before the teens noticed that hunger pains were upstaging mental and spiritual curiosity.

When was the last time you got similarly excited about something you discovered in the Bible? When did truth exposed by the pastor’s sermon so entice you that you couldn’t wait to dig into the verses for yourself when you got home? (This in contrast to shaking his/her hand with a complimentary, “Nice sermon, pastor” as you walk out the door!) When did you discover a gem in the psalms so stirring that in your quiet corner you gave God a figurative high five?! When did you discover a new way of praying, praising, studying that made your heart beat just a little faster?

Last week Psalm 70 was the meditation assignment for the delightful group of women who meet together each Sunday morning in our church. In this psalm, David is desperately seeking God’s help during a time when he is surrounded by those intent on his destruction. He is not ashamed to call for God’s action now: Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord to help me.

But it was verse four that captured my heart as I read and re-read the words. (Incidentally, this is called “slow reading” or as Eugene Peterson describes it, gnawing on the words.) May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long (yearn) for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”

There’s no indication that at this point God had sent David help. We have no clue that the battle had been won or the family situation calmed or the cancer cured or the paycheck in hand. In fact, in the fifth verse, he again implores: Come quickly to me, O God. It is in the midst of the prayer, while his antagonists are still hot on his trail, that he remembers that it is in the seeking that rejoicing and gladness must be evident. It is while yearning for God’s help that he–and we–acknowledge his sovereignty: The Lord is great!”

It is this kind of Bible study that captivates my soul and makes my heart beat faster!


PS   Do you know how few graphics illustrate exciting Bible study?? Almost everything I found showed a group of people sedately sitting around with open Bibles and expressionless faces. I like to imagine that when David shouted, The Lord is great!, the neighbors gaped in astonishment, the windows rattled and the heavens opened!

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