Beth Moore and the Bumbling Backup Leader

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Yesterday morning the ministry bat phone went off (ok, maybe it was my husband’s I Phone, but you get the point).  A red alert was issued for the women’s bible study that very night.  The leader was down, hospitalized with a vicious migraine, and backups were being called.

Back-ups, oh right…I guess that means me. Sometimes I forget that leading the Women’s Ministry also means being the understudy.

It was the very first night of the new ministry season, kicking off the working women’s study, and canceling the event didn’t seem to be much of an option.  So, I took off to work in a panic and picked up the leader guide at lunch, skimmed over it during the day, grabbed the workbooks, and then rushed home from work to throw my kids in the car and head over to the church for set-up.  Whew!

 I expected the study to be small, just a few women gathered to dive into the word, but as our church has grown, so have the studies.  Women quickly filled up the room.  Women who were all staring at me for guidance. I felt the weight of their expectations drain the lightness from my heart.

The air was thick with awkward giggles and pauses.  The very same women, who would eventually spill their tender and fragile hearts, now eyed each other with cool appraisal.  They were anticipating a spiritual giant and here stood a bumbling and unprepared third string quarter-back.

I tried to break the ice by playing a silly name game, which generally has a high success rate at connecting groups, but they were a wily bunch, and weren’t buying my juvenile ploys to get them to relax.  So, I rambled  a bit more, tried to sound like I wasn’t winging it, did some introductions, and then finally, gratefully, turned on the video DVD by Beth Moore

The women seemed to enjoy the video, but I was acutely aware that a certain element was missing.  The group hadn’t bonded and I had only fifteen minutes left.  A spirit of suspicion seemed to permeate the room.

“Oh, Lord, what do I do?” I prayed.

I sensed that prayer was the right direction, but the group was so big, if we all shared it could take hours.  So, I went out on a spiritual limb, asked the women to split in pairs and pray with each other.  I knew I was taking a risk in a group this big, not really knowing if some of the women had ever even prayed out loud. Mutiny was looming in the back of my brain.

And all of a sudden, as if a bomb went off, the room exploded in voices.  They were happy voices that rang out and reverberated off the ceiling.

I sat and watched dumbfounded, realizing a profound truth.  Even though women say that Biblical learning and instruction are a priority, from their reaction it seemed like what they really wanted was connection. And it was desperate greedy need.  

More and more often, I am confronted with the idea that our community of believers is literally starving for human interaction.  People are becoming tremendously isolated, despite the advances in technology (or maybe because of them) and working women, maybe even more so, because they miss out on the community of mothers and play dates, classroom parties and volunteering. Sitting in a cubicle all day staring at a computer does little to strengthen the bonds of communal living.  And it is eating away at our very souls.

We weren’t designed for this.  God created us to be in relationships within in a community of believers and to live in fellowship.  Our relational connection was never intended to be fulfilled with an I Phone, Face Book, and Tweets. 

And so, women come to Bible Study for far more than the Scriptures. They come to find friendship, solidarity, and support in a world that is destroying the very nature of our relational design.

Lesson learned for this Bible teacher.  Next session we do group time first, and then study time!

Intentional, interactive, chatty time that is cathartic for the soul; for a generation of women that are subconsciously mourning the loss of a shared lifestyle and needing nothing more than a smile, a hug and a little empathy from some Godly gals.

Oh, and maybe a little chocolate too.

Shock and Awe

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I am a big scaredy cat. I get squirrelly in dark parking lots, check my back seat for Ted Bundy, and keep every door and window locked despite the sweltering heat of summer.   The Night Stalker killings and rampage of the 1980’s terrorized my childhood dreams and sleep for years, even after he was incarcerated and even when my fear was more detrimental than reality.  Admittedly, if ADT offered a personalized alarm system, one that monitored my body’s perimeter for criminals, sex offenders and violent youth, I would be the first to sign up.

I know I am not alone in this irrational attachment to fear.  Women, in general, seem far more prone to insecurity than men when it comes to feeling safe and the media only plays into our anxiety.  Watching the eleven-o-clock news requires a black belt in karate or at minimum, a proficient knowledge in the use of handguns and weaponry. At least the Today show filters down the evil antics of the night before to a few newsworthy stories. The media’s fascination with shock value has given the general public an overload of information, much of it detrimental to our sense of well-being.

 In an effort to “enlighten us,” it has not come without a great cost.  We have sacrificed of our sense of peace and perceived security on the altar of “shock and awe news.” Jack Nicholson said it best, “You can’t handle the truth.” I both agree and simultaneously disagree with him. I would argue that a little truth goes a long way, and in some cases, I would actually prefer to be sheltered from every single murder and drive-by incident. On the flip side, deep down my spirit pushes me to cry out for the oppressed in direct opposition to my inner wuss who wants to live in denial.

That’s not to say violence hasn’t touched my own life. I don’t live in a bubble.  As a small child, an intruder broke into our home and assaulted my own mother at knife-point.   I’ve had my share of attempted break-ins, altercations, and even a bounty-hunter who terrorized my family one night due to a mistaken identity.  And maybe that’s the reason why my heart breaks every time I see another story of devastation and abuse.  Isn’t life hard enough without a play by-play rerun of its atrocities? 

As a story–teller, I too am at a conundrum. I aim to evoke emotion from my writing.  I want to expose the injustice in the world and bring it to light.  Conversely, as a woman and a mother, my deepest desire is for security and a sense of well-being. It is a duality that confronts all of us.  This is where faith in God and our deepest trust issues collide.  The Scriptures say to “fear not” while my flesh trembles and panics.  Maybe that’s why, “Don’t be afraid,” is repeated more often than any verse in the Bible.  God knew the torment we would encounter and suggests only He, can provide us with the peace and security we long for.

So until the day I will meet Jesus face to face, I will continue to lock my doors, skip the late news and press into the truth, even when I would rather shut my eyes and even when the façade of safety seems more appealing than the violence of reality.

 

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