Today I’m thinking of my years in Bible Study Fellowship and how grateful I am for this particular journey. How I got there in the beginning, how I was called away, and then I was called back – BSF is one of the best things God has ever put in my path.
This is the story of how I got there…
When I became a Christian my junior year in college I knew nothing really about the Bible, only that my heart had been changed by believing Jesus died on the cross for my sins. A friend told me that the word believe in the Greek meant to receive personally, and in a tiny dorm room late at night, I got personal with Jesus and confessed I was lost, hurting and very mixed up. I opened my heart to receive Him, and He was good to His Word – He came in.
What took root in me was belief. I believed, but I didn’t know how to grow. After college and wildly in love with my new husband and our new life, I became immersed in growing a marriage and a family and enticed by everything the world set before me. I wouldn’t quite call it keeping up with the Jones’ as much as keeping with ‘me’. I had some pretty steep dreams and high aspirations. I call these my back burner years because my faith sat barely summering on the back burner as so many other things boiled out of control.
It took me about five years to grow desperate.
God answered my childhood prayer and we had four precious stair-step children. By the time the last two were off to kindergarten I found myself desperate for something, anything just for me. I began a long list of ideas to satisfy my dreams ranging from cooking classes, golf lessons, perhaps theater, to a crazy array of entrepreneurial ventures. Interestingly, through all the back burner years my mother repeatedly relayed to me faith stories from a Bible study in which she participated in Nashville. I listened but the interest stopped there.
One day standing around with kindergarten moms, a girl I barely knew asked if I would be interested in a Bible study. As she talked about it, I thought it sounded familiar, a lot like the one my mother kept telling me about. And it was, the same one – Bible Study Fellowship. Right then and there something clicked in me. I knew I would go, I wanted to go; in fact, I knew I was supposed to go. I put my ‘dream’ list on the back burner and on the second Wednesday in September I walked in BSF and found what I was desperate for.
I’ll never forget the first day. I didn’t know a soul. Everyone was so nice… and also dressed up. These were the days of skirts and sweater sets. From the minute I walked in my heart was pounding – not from nervousness or being under dressed, but from the Holy Spirit’s confirmation in me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Each week, in blue jeans with my hair pulled back in a pony tail, I snuck in and sat on the back row. I didn’t care if anyone else saw me; I knew God saw me. I found what I’d been desperate for – a relationship with Jesus.
Wednesday’s became my favorite day of the week. I came home and at the dinner table re-taught what I had learned. My husband said Wednesday’s were his favorite day of the week because I was so happy. The Bible came alive to me. I could prove Jesus was alive – He was alive in me! Every single week there was another truth that I had never heard or thought of. Girls in my small group talked about God planting seeds in their hearts. With me, God was not planting a nice little garden; He was planting a farm, plowing up hard ground and planting row crops!
One of my strongest memories is how I loved the lecturer. I’d never met her, but weekly I sat under her instruction as she, verse by verse, brought the Bible down to my level and God brought His Word into my life. By December, after listening for four months to her weekly talks, I wanted to simply thank her. I tried to make it from the back row down the aisle but halfway there I started crying, just rehearsing the words I wanted to say. I turned and left the church with a full heart and unspoken words of gratitude.
That was 1987. In 1991, I was asked to begin and teach an evening BSF class in Huntsville. God kept me in that little piece of heaven for 14 years. Now I am in the Huntsville BSF day class, taking my grandson. I don’t have a pony tail anymore, nor do I sit on the back row. But, you know what? To this day two things mean the world to me:
One, spiritual growth. I remember what it feels like to be starved and hungry for God and the Holy Spirit’s spark. When I see it or hear it in the eyes and words of girls in the class, I recognize that fire. And I remember.
And then this: it has happened a few times after teaching God’s Word, that someone in the audience will approach me with tears in her eyes. She wants to say thank you, but can’t. She has no idea what I am remembering, and I always love her for her bravery.
Coming up in a few weeks are the Welcome sessions for sign-up to begin BSF in the fall. The study is new: People of the Promised Land, Part 1. It starts with Joshua. Some of you know that Joshua is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I can't wait to study the man and the book! Here are the details: Welcome session to sign up for the Huntsville Day Class Wednesday, May 2 & Wednesday, September 12, 9:10 am, Southwood Presbyterian Church, Huntsville Welcome session to sign up for the Huntsville Evening Class Tuesday, April 24 and May 1, 6:30 pm, Southside Baptist Church, Huntsville Details for BSF classes all over the world are here.