Yesterday I heard a metaphor that I think will stick with me for a while. When I go to make tea, I boil the water, pour it over the tea bag, and let it steep for several minutes. Alternatively, I could boil the water, pour it in the cup, and dunk the tea bag in and immediately take it out. That wouldn’t make very good tea, though.
Similarly, I have two options for how I spend time with God. I could take brief and irregular dunks into God’s word and say short prayers sporadically. Alternatively, I could saturate my life with God’s word, spend time pondering the application in my heart, and communicate consistently with him through prayer. Which will make me a better “tea”?
One way to “steep my tea” a bit stronger is to be involved in a good church that challenges me to spend more time with God (and I feel blessed to have one right now).
“I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8)
“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
When life gets crazy or my schedule gets interrupted, I’ll make a cuppa and remember that in order to be fully “steeped” I have to spend time in the living water. No one likes weak tea, and God doesn’t like a half-steeped follower.
“Send our your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.” (Psalm 43:3)
Tuesdays are always tough for me. I developed a theory during student teaching that Tuesdays are really the worst day of the week. We expect Mondays to be tiring, but they’re actually kind of exciting because it’s a new week and I’ve gotten rest over the weekend. Wednesdays are good because it’s the middle of the week. By the time Thursday and Friday roll around, it’s almost the weekend. And then the weekend is always great because it’s the weekend. But Tuesdays…Tuesdays have very few redeeming qualities. To add to that, I spend quite a bit of time alone on Tuesdays between school and Bible study. For those reasons, I sometimes get discouraged on Tuesdays.
Yesterday was one of those Tuesdays. I felt discouraged, tired, unappreciated, and just empty. These feelings led to questions about my future and if what I’m doing is really what I should be doing. I wondered if I am making a difference with the BCM. To put it shortly, I had a little pity party. In my car. Alone. For quite some time.
Probably not the best idea.
Thankfully, my line of work with BCM often leads me back to the Bible even when I don’t feel like going there. I started skimming through lesson again for Bible study last night. God does cool things, ya know. That lesson was on the ways Satan uses distraction, discouragement, and doubt to get us off focus. As I read the chapter I realized that Satan was definitely using discouragement to beat me down. He was whispering lies to me, and I was falling for them fast.
Once I realized what was going on, it was easier to step back and figure out how to come out of that slump before it became an avalanche. Through experience, I know that the best way to fight off discouragement is to spend time in God’s fellowship. I started praying for my spirit and for the Bible study that night. I began taking thorough notes on the chapters for myself and for the teaching process. I read 16 chapters of Genesis. By the time I came out of my car, I was feeling better about what I doing with my life and the worry had melted away.
Our Bible study went well last night. We covered the two chapters of our book and had good discussion about Mary and Martha’s life lessons. Somewhere I heard that part of being a good leader is bringing vulnerability to the lesson. By bringing my own very current discouragement to the table, I was able to more effectively teach the lesson. That was a moment where God used my pain for His glory. And that’s the ultimate purpose of my life: to bring glory to God.
These past few weeks have been good on campus. The BCM have met three times on Monday nights for dinner and Bible study. We even have a couple new faces this semester. We’ve been studying through The Gospel Project from LifeWay. A local church was willing to give us their previous quarter’s books so that we can use this study for free. So far we have looked at God and why he should be praised according to Psalm 148 and Job 38. The next week we hit it hard with Satan’s fall as described by Isaiah and Ezekiel. This session produced many good questions about the origin of evil and showed us how God triumphs over evil. This coming Monday we will be back in Genesis 2 and Psalm 95 and discussing how God lovingly made this world for his people. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first to co-teach these lessons to what are essentially my peers, but it has proved to be an educational experience. I’ve learned about preparing lessons, seeking God’s guidance on what to say, and searching the scriptures when questions are posed.
In addition to Monday nights, the women and I have been meeting on Tuesday nights in a dorm to study Biblical truths about our relationship with God presented in a book called Spoken For. This book is written by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Bethke. It has nice short chapters that we all read prior to coming together and wonderful discussion questions. The best part about this book is that it points us back to scriptures that we can use to remind ourselves how God views us. Many in our group come from broken families of one sort or another and/or have been in romantic relationships that left us feeling less than. We are using those experiences and heartaches combined with the stories told by Robin and Alyssa to compare with how God has never abandoned us or hurt us. Of course God always wins! The book and the conversations that follow are healing to the heart for everyone in the group. I’m thankful that God has placed this group of women in my life. I don’t think I’m really leading this group as much as this group is leading itself. Even if we all separate after college time ends, I look forward to worshiping Jesus in heaven with these ladies.
Finally, I spend my time on campus manning a prayer table on Tuesday afternoons. I stake out a spot for three hours where I have an open invitation to prayer and requests. I ask for prayer for this specific ministry. It’s not been as fruitful as I’d like. It’s a busy time for this location but many students simply walk by without stopping. I’ve only had a few people stop. I know God can use it for even a few people, but it would be encouraging to talk with more people. It has been a bit of an eye opener though. Of the few people who have stopped, a couple have not exactly been open or understanding of the gospel. One girl stopped and asked if she could say no to prayer. I replied that she could, but I was a bit shocked when she wrote on the paper that I shouldn’t pray for her and proceeded to sign her name. Of course, I prayed that God would soften her heart and provide an opportunity for a Christian to talk with her. Another student stopped with a couple of prayer requests and I was able to talk with him about his faith. He believes in God and Jesus as God’s son but he also believes there are many ways to heaven. I pray that I will be able to talk with him further when he doesn’t have to rush to class. Please pray for me here at this table, that I would be bolder in talking to people and that more students would stop to talk and pray. I know God can use this table.
Well that’s about it for an update. I hope your January is turning out nicely.
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