Standing at our front window one rainy Tuesday morning, I knew something needed to give. I had a baby on one hip and a toddler pulling on my leg. I loved my kids. I loved this life of mom and wife. But what I really wanted to be called was friend.
Moving had created a kind of loneliness in me that I hadn’t really experienced before. We had moved so many times, but this time it was for real. It was for keeps. My family was miles away, my high school and college friends scattered across the country, and it seemed that everyone in our new town already had friends. They didn’t need one more.
So when someone gave me a church bulletin from a nearby church, announcing a women’s Bible study with childcare, I was in like Flynn. I’ll be overly honest – I went for relationships, not for Jesus. I loved Jesus, but at this point, I probably would have shown up for a raucous drink fest if it would have offered childcare and adult conversation. The fact that this Bible study had coffee was just icing on the cake.
I showed up with my baby boy’s list of allergens, explained his intense dislike of anything stuffed or carpeted (sorry, there, childcare providers…you really do rock), and peeled the toddler in princess garb off my right leg, promising a mommy-date that involved nuggets and fries if she would just sample the fun to be had in the childcare room.
Free of extra appendages, I headed into Bible study, my typical yet embarrassing 3 minutes late, and was met with the jovial smiles of women of all ages who understood and were just happy I was there. I took a seat and they handed me a book.
Ooooo, pretty! I love fresh books, I thought in my mind, until I was brought back to planet earth by the voice of the study leader saying, “We’ll watch the video and then there will be five days of homework that you complete.” She eagerly flipped pages, clearly chomping at the bit to put pencil to paper. Me? I was stuck with my mouth ajar…wait a minute, did she just say homework, five days of it? What did I sign up for?
Holy Toledo, who has time for homework?
I came for coffee and to meet people who might want to hang out at the play land and swap stories of sleep deprivation and husband’s who still wanted to eat food off of ceramic plates, when paper was clearly the better life option at this point requiring so much less personal commitment.
“If you don’t get to the homework, don’t worry about it. Just come anyway. We’ll have a good discussion no matter what. Don’t let that stop you from being in Bible study,” the leader was saying, while her co-hort nodded emphatically.
“Whew,” I thought, with no intention of dedicating time to “quietly digest the Word” and all that. (There goes my overly honest gene again.)
Bible study itself was a smashing success for me. We discussed everything from what brand of toothpaste we used, for sheer silliness sake, to what church looked like for us growing up, even if it had never looked like anything at all. We talked about marriages and singleness and our favorite restaurants. When the leader turned on a video of a woman leading Bible study, I began to dutifully fill in my missing blanks. I loved looking up the Scriptures in a room full of women who didn’t care how long it took me to find the page. This was doable.
The workbook sat on my dining room table staring at me the next morning. I could hear that little flutter in my heart –
“Do the homework. Just try it. Try it.”
Ugh, fine. It was loud enough that it could not be ignored, so when naptime rolled around that afternoon, I took my Bible off the shelf and spread my workbook out on the table. 10 minutes in I found myself taking notes in the margins. I was transfixed. I flipped through the pages in my Bible and found my nose about an inch from the text. I couldn’t believe how the Word connected to itself and to me, Old and New, Judgement and Grace, Law and Love.
I kept doing my homework. I went to Bible study for the fellowship and kept going for the growth. I needed that Word like I needed breath for my lungs or water on a desert trek.
My anxiety was better, my tongue was nicer, and my home was happier. Life was far from perfect, but loneliness lifted and was replaced by the knowledge that if all this passed away in an instant, Jesus would still be the Lover of my soul and the Filler of my heart.
Homework changed everything.
I didn’t just need Jesus in my life, I wanted Him in everything, in every place and every crack. He seeped in and mended brokenness I didn’t know I had, and slathered grace everywhere I hadn’t realized was parched.
I’m not sure where you’re at in this life. I don’t know your story, but know this: Christ in everything makes all the difference. Reading the Word every day changes things. It puts light in dark places and brings hope – fresh and undaunted.
Try it. Join a study local to you, hop online for our upcoming study, or grab a friend, even a stranger, and do both.
He is in that Word. He loves us enough to pursue us. He speaks directly to our hearts and our minds every time. Crack it open. Aim for consistency. Learn from Eternity.
Always, always rest in His grace.
And do your homework.