Thursday, July 3, 2008

Suffering?

I am trying to figure out what I am supposed to teach for the Bible study this coming fall.

Or if I am supposed to teach a Bible study at all.

Or if I should go back to college and get a teaching degree.

Shawn mentioned to me while we were are Lake Placid that he thought I should go back to school. I am not sure how he meant it. I was sharing with him that lately I feel stupid and left behind in life. I think about my friends who became doctors, surgeons, researchers, professional people who travel and have a professional jargon and know how to rent cars and turn on their own televisions. I guess maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis, looking at all the things I didn't do and have not become. Anyway, Shawn said that he thought I should go back to school.

I need to talk to him about that, because we are supposed to do what our husbands tell us to do. I need to find out exactly what he meant when he said that.

If I go back to school, I will have to give up teaching the Bible study, and that has become one of my greatest joys in life... to go every Tuesday morning and find this wonderful roomful of beautiful women who want to learn about Jesus. They are there before I am, many of them, like a miracle. They bring delicious breakfast foods--fruits and breads and baked egg dishes--and one or two of them set a beautiful table with flowers to serve from. They mingle and chat and have breakfast while I get my materials in order, and then we pray, and dive into the Word of God for over an hour. We finish by praying more--they share their requests with me and I have the privilege of lifting them up in prayer.

It is a time when I feel the presence of God and the love of the saints. It is the high point of the week. It gives me a reason to study during the week, a reason to depend on God and cling to Him each day so that I will be able to bring them something from His table.

It has been a relatively painless way for me to grow spiritually. And we all know that most spiritual growth happens in times of suffering and trial, so it has been a bountiful, abundant blessing.

I have never made any money. I have made less than $20,000 in my entire life. I have contributed nil to my family's financial situation, unless you count that I do my own housework and serve homemade meals most of the time instead of getting take-out or fast-food.

The things I love to do, I do not want to do for money. I want to study and teach about Jesus. I want to pursue Truth and Wisdom.

I would not mind teaching high school students to think. I would not mind teaching literature and asking different questions from the ones the students are usually asked. It would be exciting to open young minds to thoughts they have never had, to ideas they have never pondered, to point them, even in a secular American public school, to the idea that there might be a God and that He might be worth seeking.

But going to college costs money. I have a child in college. After next year, I will have two children in college, and the year after that, three. If the Lord wants me to go to college, I hope and pray that He will make it very clear and provide a view of the path for financing it so that I can know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am following His plan.

Teaching the Bible study doesn't cost money. It pays in rich spiritual blessings, and I love doing it. I will have to give it up if I go to college.

Right now I do not know what I would teach in the Bible study. Last fall we did the book of Matthew, and from January to June we did 1 & 2 Kings. I was thinking we would do 1 & 2 Peter this coming fall, but as I tried to get a start on it, it wasn't coming together.

Then I started to have the idea that perhaps I am supposed to teach on Job. Suffering. There is so much pain in the world, in people's lives. And Christians can easily get thrown by pain when they have a mistaken idea that belonging to Jesus means they receive automatic protection from pain.

This morning I did my Bible reading, which included Job 3-7. Afterwards, I went online to listen to Colin Smith, my current favorite Bible teacher. Strangely, the message was untitled, which is unusual. But as Pastor Colin started to preach, he was in the beginning of Job, referencing verses I had read yesterday and this morning. I wondered if this was a hint from God that I was on the right track in thinking He wants me to teach Job instead of 1 Peter. Then Pastor Colin referenced some verses from 1 Peter about suffering.

Maybe I am supposed to teach about suffering.

I need to keep praying about this. I am scared of teaching the book of Job, because I don't understand all of it very well. I know that there are places where Job's friends say true things, and also places where they say things that are not right, things that made God angry (we know this because of what God said to them in Job 42:7). I do not feel confident in my ability to discern where they are speaking truth and where they are wrong. I am afraid to try to teach this book.

So should I just go to college and become an English teacher?

What is God's purpose for my life?

2 comments:

MacCárthaigh Family said...

Hello Ruth,
I am in a bit of a rush so I will read your post at a later date, I wanted to tell you how VERY much I appreciated your comments to me. It is a great encouragement to me. The help of man is useless (don't be offended!) so to see your comment full of advice from the Lord means so much to me.

Things have been hellish these past few days in relation to my sin and my un-saved brother but I believe that the Lord has been answering our prayers and I have been given direction from Him about how to proceed. Thank God.

I hope you and your family have a blessed 4th of July and that you all grow closer the the Lord day by day...
Thanks again,
Ruth

MacCárthaigh Family said...

Ok, I had the chance to get back and read your post and it was worth it. I don't know you well enough to advise. I wouldn't be too quick to give up the Bible study. We know for sure that this is real fruit and a good work. No question.

It reminds me about a struggle I had when Niall and I got married almost 6 years ago. I was 38 and had to decide if we were going to have a child. It's a long story that I might blog about on my testimony blog on another date, but Niall and I prayed and got a no from God.

I still (every now and again) yearn for a baby and feel a sadness aboout Sean growing up, but I know that I have to trust God. He knows the beginning from the end, I don't.

I know that if I had another child that it would take a lot out of me and I would have to give up the children's Bible club and other things that I am involved in. I know that home schooling Sean would be much harder. I have seen a family that used to be joined to our church go against God's will and foster twin girls, and this eventually took them away from our fellowship...

Yes, I still yearn and now and again I take it to the Lord, again, but He has great patience with me I am glad to say!

I try very much to appreciate what I have and I am so glad to have Niall and Sean.

I hope you and your husband bring this to the Lord soon and that you both get His answer, and you both will be content with it! Looking forwards to reading more about this Ruth!

Ruth