The act of ‘listening’ isn’t always hearing the spoken word. God’s messages come to me in various formats . . . I just have to pay attention and realize that He’s speaking to me through them. I’ve been consistently worshipping at other churches since last fall, and at the same church for the past two months. Before ‘trying out’ a new church, I comb websites for program offerings, Sunday morning education classes, and worship service times and styles. I use this information to ‘make my plan’ for Sunday morning (after all, I am an ISTJ . . . . it’s in my nature to plan). But, putting my plan aside, I have a keen awareness of the place and the people when I worship with a new congregation. I soak it all in. I pay attention to every detail. I listen. I become aware that God led me to this place at this time. He directs people in my path that I should listen and pay attention to. So, even though I’ve arrived with my ready-made-agenda for Sunday morning, I listen to others who recommend or invite me to a class and I roll with it. I forgo my plans and see others as messengers.
Earlier this month, I perused the order of worship one Sunday morning during service and a new Monday evening Bible study caught my eye. It was described as a weekly study where participants would dive into the Word. I want to open my Bible. I want to be challenged. I crave deep, inspiring conversations centered around the Word. I seek to learn new things about Jesus Christ and how He is working in my life. I did a double-take. The description of this class was exactly what I had been praying for. So, I emailed the contact person later that day and was in attendance at the first meeting. At first glance, that initial gathering was not what I expected. It was not for me. Aside from a couple of folks who are about a decade older than I am, everyone else in the group is twice my age . . . and beyond. To say that a fuss was made about me . . . a single, blonde, smiling stranger in her 30s . . . is an understatement. The class was thrilled to welcome me and encouraged me to share about myself and my insights. And, I . . . well, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted. I found I was talking myself out of it. But, as I reflected on my drive home from class that evening, I realized my only hesitation surrounding this new opportunity was that it didn’t ‘look like’ what I wanted it to ‘look like.’
What if what God wants for me is different than what I think I want for myself?
What if it ‘looks different’ than I expect?
Whatever unspoken expectations I had for this group or ‘ideal’ I had painted in my mind quickly became trivial. The blessing of being part of this group is that it fills a void in my life. It’s my chance to open my Bible and talk about the Christian faith with those who have been on their journey much longer than I have. It’s a chance to learn from those who have lived more, loved a lot, and lost much more than me. It is exactly where God wants me to be. It is an answer to my prayer.
I look at most decisions as ‘right now’ decisions, not ‘forever’ decisions. For right now, this experience is helping me learn more about Christ. It has me opening my Bible on a consistent basis. I am in community with other believers. Will I study with this group forever? No. But that doesn’t diminish the significance of this opportunity in my life right now. Thank God for His messengers and for the insight I have to listen when He calls.