I've been doing a lot of thinking about God lately, what with writing a Lenten devotional and all. The devotional's purpose is to help people read their Bible from a personal perspective, because stories of events three thousand years ago really are relevant to our lives today, even if that can be hard to see sometimes.
God works in mysterious ways. He uses a whiny old man named Moses--who, incidentally murdered man in his youth and ran away from the law--to convince Pharaoh to let his people go.
So why not use me, a student in a Bible study who DID NOT READ HER WHOLE ASSIGNMENT but has never committed murder or any other felony, to teach a Bible study class.
Yes. Why not?
These things happen. Another student in the class received a phone call right as class began, requiring the pastor and the student to leave abruptly. I followed them out to the hall because the other student is a friend, I am a Stephen Minister, and it seemed the right thing to do. The news was not good, and the pastor turned to me and said, "I'm going with her. Will you please take the class? The handouts are with my stuff on the table."
I don't say no to the pastor. She's just one of those people you don't say no to. That's like saying no to God, don't you think? Only it's easier to say no to God because He doesn't have kind eyes that beseech you.
Or maybe He does have kind eyes. I don't know. But Pastor does, so I always say yes to her.
Oh, funny digression. I was sitting through a fascinating class on biblical names. God has this odd habit of changing people's names. Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah, Saul becomes Paul, Simon becomes Peter. We were discussing what would happen if God changed our names. The study leader said she'd argue with God. "Really? You want to change my name? Why would you do that? What purpose will that serve? Is it really necessary?" I laughed and said if God appeared to me and gave me a new name, I'd say, "Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!" Another member of the class added, "And then you'd ask, 'How would you like me to spell that?'" Amen, sister.
So I suppose whether or not God shows up with kind eyes, in a burning bush, or speaking out of a whirlwind asking me to do something, I'm likely to do it. Eventually. Like Moses, I hemmed and hawwed about becoming a liturgist for years (speak in church? me?), but I got there eventually.
There was, however, no delaying this particular Bible study class. People were seated and waiting.
I had to say an opening prayer.
Oh, the agony!
Well, of course it wasn't really agony; I'm just drama queening. But leading prayer still feels awkward to me because I haven't practiced enough. I always worry that I'll leave something out or think too far ahead, lose track of where I am, and misspeak.
But you know what? It doesn't matter what I say, not really. What matters is coming to God in worship and love and community, and saying what's in your heart out loud. What matters is being in Christian community and welcoming God into your midst. God doesn't care if you're awkward and unsure or a tiny bit unprepared.
He just cares that you show up with a willing, grateful heart.
I showed up. So did the others in the class. We prayed for our friend who left with the pastor, and for a few others who are hurting, and we prayed for God to be with us as we studied his Word. Between all of us and the pastor's handout, we had a good class, a class in which everyone participated and contributed so much we ran long. I learned a lot. I hope the rest of the class did, too.
But next time our class meets, you can bet your sweet patootie I'll have done all the reading. Every last word of it.
Just in case.
And just in case you're also the praying kind, please lift up my friend Jamie and her family as they mourn the loss of Jamie's mother on Tuesday, and my friend Margery and her family as they mourn the loss of Marg's sister on Wednesday.