Summer is approaching – I hate to say it while still reveling in the fairer temperatures of spring, but if you live in the South I’m afraid spring blinks more than it settles in. In a few weeks children will be set free from school, college students will return home, we’ll go on vacations, long-weekends and mission trips while enjoying the looser rhythms of June, July and August. I can hear my garden crooning from the backyard.
The question is how will we use these summer months for our spiritual enrichment? We plan for getaways and gardens, and we need this same level of intentionality to study God’s Word. But you ask, how can I stay motivated to do this during the summer? (So glad you’re thinking along these lines.) For starters, Beth Moore’s Summer Study this year will be on Priscilla Shirer’s new release: Gideon: Your Weaknesses. God’s Strength. All the info you need to be part of this can be found here.
Beth’s Summer Study is an incredible resource for studying God’s Word through the summer, whether by yourself or within a group. And if you’ve ever watched Priscilla teach you know I’m telling the plain truth when I say she’s one of the best communicators out there. What I’m trying to say is that you can invite your friends into the mix with the utter confidence that they will not. be. bored. And you will not be embarrassed for having encouraged them over. Moreover, Priscilla communicates Christ, so what’s not to love?
Which conveniently leads me to my next thought about YOU possibly leading a group this summer, whether as part of Priscilla’s study or another one God’s put on your heart. There are so many! (A few authors to consider below.) I feel extra spirited about this because of something I experienced this week. So, a little story for your enjoyment…
A few days ago a friend and I drove ninety minutes out of Nashville to a small town in Tennessee where we dropped in on a bible study (pics below). They’d done some of my studies, and through a mutual friend of my late grandfather’s (long and interesting story here) invited me to “surprise” their group. What I didn’t know beforehand was that the host of the study was 92.
I write this unto you another way, ninety-two.
She was wearing sky blue pants, a seabreeze sweater, and aqua marine earrings that tied the whole ensemble together like two berries on a shortcake. She’d assembled 40 plates of chicken salad, fruit and pasta served with homemade cheese straws. You better believe the tea was sweet and the coffee was piping. The deserts were legion. She said she had lots of “help” but you could tell who ran the show: Erline.
Woman after woman – young, “older” and everyone in between – entered her home with shock and awe at the sight of me plopped in the middle of the living room. (There may have been squealing.) (I kept looking over my shoulder thinking maybe Oprah had dropped in.) I had never quite experienced this kind of admiration, but what they clearly didn’t understand is how far more stunned I was by them than they could have ever been with me. I was inspired by Erline’s gusto at –have I mentioned this? – ninety-two year’s old; the group’s commitment to meet and serve one another week after week; the compassionate way they invited their friends and neighbors into their fold; the humility of the lead woman from the local church.
A few of the women shared about what studying God’s Word together has meant to them. Some described the grief of losing sons and husbands, and how God has comforted them through their pain; Others talked of how God spoke through the pages of Scripture; Still a newly declared U.S. citizen shared about how she hadn’t left her home in years until a woman from the study taught her English and invited her to this gathering. A phenomenal story.
The legacy of this bible study group will have eternal ramifications.
My friend and I left emotionally drained and filled at the same time. So humbled by how God uses us, and so moved by how He meets His people when they simply gather, seek Him and encourage one another. I drove away reminded of how POWERFUL studying Scripture and praying together is; How necessary; How vital to our beings, relationships, homes. I was inspirited to be like Erline who opened up her home as well as the other women who brought food and facilitated the study through their local church.
The visit stirred up memories of me sitting in my parents’ sunroom, along with nine other college friends, while my mom slid in a VHS Tape of a “new” Bible Study teacher named Beth. The woman on the videotape was blonde and funny. She knew Jesus. And she changed the course of my life. Beth Moore of course was vital to the process, but equally so was my mom who opened up her home to us college girls. She lured us with baked goods and warm mugs. She gave us a pastel floral couch on which to discuss the difficult years of college. Could you be that person this summer? This fall? (maybe sans the floral couch.) Consider what opening up your home for a summer bible study could do for the lives around you. If (one more time) 92 year-old Erline can do it, perhaps…
***Here are a few LifeWay authors whose studies you might enjoy, a few I know and respect: Angela Thomas, Tammie Head, Jen Hatmaker, Jennie Allen, Lisa Harper, Jennifer Rothschild, Mary Jo Sharp, Vicki Courtney, Kay Arthur, Mary Kassian, Margaret Feiberg, and I hope I haven’t left anyone out. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, but these are a few LifeWay friends to get you started if you’re looking for a place to begin.