So, last Friday, when I marked my return to blogging (such as it may or may not be) with a pseudo-post about the sorts of activities I’ve been enjoying apart from, you know, blogging, I neglected to mention teaching Bible study. In fact, Bible study–not only the teaching but the study and the preparation and the anticipation and the thinking about and the worrying over–all that probably takes up as much time as those five activities combined and yet somehow I forget to mention it? When I realized I had overlooked this huge part of life as I know it I was so embarrassed–isn’t that crazy? I suppose that is what happens when one attempts to revive her blog with a post written in fifteen minutes flat.
So, yes, I am teaching Bible study and, despite my failure to list it as such, it is a non blogging activity that I enjoy. Actually, that’s not entirely the truth of it. I do enjoy teaching, tremendously so. I can’t avoid the teacher’s chair if I tried and sometimes I have, tried to avoid it that is, but to no avail. I am compelled. However, my passion is not always so singularly felt.
A couple of weeks ago my friend, a first time participant in a study I’ve facilitated, remarked on her observation of my joy in teaching. “Don’t you just love it?” she asked, answering her own question, “I can tell you do.” I answered in the affirmative–because I do love it and need it and crave it and enjoy it–but I had to admit that as much as I love it I also sometimes dread it, particularly on a Tuesday morning about an hour out from the start of class when I find myself wavering between excited anticipation, grateful humility, and full blown panic coupled with a slight touch of nausea.
I remember when I used to teach with the zeal of the confident (and dare I say the ignorant?). I was so sure of myself and sure of my “calling” and sure of the blessings inherent in the pursuit of God through His Word that there was little room for the aforementioned panic and nausea. How I loved the Lord and the Word! I still do, yes, even more so, but my fervor is now tempered by fear.
It’s true: even at the ripe old age of 44 the fight against insecurity wages on. I mean, hello, a room of twenty-plus women waiting on me to teach? Me without a single hour of formal theological training nor even the first speech communication class? Me, an ordinary mom, an introvert of introverts, a hermit more comfortable in a room full of books than a room full of women?
I’m insecure, yes, indeed, and part of that insecurity is borne of a self-focus that convinces me I can’t and shouldn’t. Funny thing is, those same fears rightly channeled prompt an even greater fear: the fear of the Lord. How small I am before Him and how silly my pretensions to teach His Word in and of my own skill and winsomeness! Who am I, indeed? More than an ordinary, introverted mom I am a sinner, not merely inadequate to the task but wholly and completely unworthy on my own merit. To teach the Word of God is a fearsome thing and the more I study the Bible, the more I know of the holiness and righteousness of the Lord, the more I see my own sin and inadquacy, the more I shudder before the responsibility of teaching.
I shudder, it’s true, but then I step up to the podium and I open my mouth and I know yet again the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. I cannot and ought not and (please, Lord) will not apart from His provision. I see my inadequacy to the point I sometimes want to run and hide but in that weakness I know His strength! He is faithful!
Every week before we begin our discussion of that week’s lesson I pray with my fellow Bible students, not as some sort of ritualistic mantra but simply because we need the Lord. True Bible study–in all of its accompanying grace and blessing–will not happen apart from Him. We ask the Lord to open our eyes because if He does not we will not see. We ask Him to give us hearts to understand because if He does not we will not comprehend. We ask Him to teach us and to change us and to convict us and to save us because if He does not we have not only wasted our time but we remain ignorant and blind, lost, dead in our understanding.
I am grateful for this privilege, this responsibility, to communicate the riches of the Word of God, to proclaim the good news of salvation in Christ alone. Because I well know my insufficiency and inadequacy, I tremble before I teach. I am insecure, yes, and I am also desperate and needy. I require the Lord’s grace and the Lord’s power. The good news is He is faithful to provide and in His faithful provision I find boldness. He promises to answer the cry of the weak with His strength! Glory to God, apart from Him we can do nothing.