For our Fall Bible study, God has led our group to select Jen Hatmaker's book Tune In: Hearing God's Voice through the Static.
I love Jen Hatmaker, though not for the same reasons as my friend (and Bible study leader) Kelly. Girlfriend Jen, as we've come to call her (because she's always referring to her readers as 'Girls' and 'Girlfriends'), knocked me and my Bible study approach flat by reminding me of what God's Word says. We (He and me) can study the Bible all by ourselves and glean what He wants me to understand. That, and, that there are earthly resources to help with that understanding (like the dictionary, thesaurus and the plethora of translations and paraphrases of the Bible and study Bibles).
So, I've been dealing with this problem for a week now. With the help of all your blogs and prayers, and Jen's study from this week, God's Word on my problem is clear.
I knew the problem was with me. (I love how Jen puts this in her book: "I'm not pointing any fingers, but out of the two of you, only one is perfect. So if there is a guilty party--well, let's just say it's not God. Okay, it's you.") The big problem was that I was putting too much emphasis on analyzing the problem and not enough emphasis on what God wanted me to do (which was NOT to analyze the problem).
Big picture girl needed to take a larger step back, and be reminded of some basic Biblical principles that were being choked out by thorns (Matthew 13: 7).
Girlfriend Jen asked us to journal about the "Parable of the Soils" at the end of our Bible study for the week. I have definitely read this before, written about it before, talked and taught about this before. "OK, God, what's new today?" (Because there is always something new.)
He showed me the thorns I had in my garden. In this passage, thorns are actually weeds that come up, even after plowing has been done. So, parts of my garden are blooming. But, I have this section that had these thorns come up, even after I thought I had "plowed through" that issue before. Persistent, deep-rooted weeds!
My issue involves a lack of humility and a lack of submission. Jen brought up something that left me with a question. Fortunately, there was a verse attached to her statement, so I did some reading. That reading led to further reading, which led me straight to the Truth about my problem! And I definitely had a lack of understanding--honestly, it was a flat-out misinterpretation on my part. Something I had let others explain differently. Whoa...or more accurately, Woe!
I believe God has pulled the weeds permanently today, though I am praying for continued application of weed-killer, if you know what I mean! Since I've had these weeds come up before, can I say with certainty that they won't come up again? Not without the One who tends my garden and gives me the new fertile soil upon which His seed will grow.
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I had missed the significance of something else in that passage as well. (And Jesus says it twice, so woe again to me for missing that....He is abounding in grace!)
"And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (vs. 8)
The seed that falls on the good soil doesn't yield the same crop, the same amount of fruit, among believers. When I cross-referenced passages in Genesis and Job, the key to the passages is not the "hundredfold." God doesn't say that we all have to strive to yield that. He says that HE will bless us, so long as we bear the fruit, grow where we are planted. HE provides the blessing, the result.
It was such a huge reminder for me that even as I strive to do the right thing, that EVERYTHING is under His control, His blessing. And the quantity of fruitfulness is not my doing but His.
Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement in this past week. I have been blessed by your fruit! What better way to end this blog than with the quote Girlfriend Jen has on her homepage. (NOT a coincidence to find that there today!)
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”
- Isaiah 55:10-11