Mining for Diamonds

A few months ago, I got a text from my high school bestie, Kristy. She asked me if I’d be the worship leader at the ladies retreat she was planning. I know her well, so I’m pretty sure she was just looking for a way to make sure I’d show up to the retreat, since I hadn’t signed up yet. Wait…I think she knows me pretty well, too.

Socializing hasn’t exactly been my thing lately.

Well, I told her I’d do it, and I prayerfully prepared my song list. As the retreat date approached, I had to fight a deep sense of dread. The thought of spending a weekend with a pile of chatty women did not feel safe to me and certainly not fun. When severe flooding caused the weekend to be postponed, I was relieved (and then felt way guilty for being so selfish).

A couple weeks later, the retreat was rescheduled at a different retreat center. As I refreshed my memory of the song list, the dread seeped in just like those flood waters. I flat-out did not want to go, but I knew I needed to, and I knew I’d be fine once I got there.

I reached out to a handful of my prayer warriors and asked them to pray that I’d be open to God and girlfriends at the Girlfriend Getaway. Oh, how I felt those prayers.

As I drove to the retreat center,  just a few miles from my cowboy daddy’s former ranch, my dread faded, and my anticipation grew. I whispered a “have your way, Lord” prayer and parked my dented Buick in front of the cabin. I was greeted with hugs and smiles and friendly faces, and the old Lee who doesn’t meet a stranger came back to life.

I spent the weekend with two dozen girlfriends, some new to me and others old church pals from my teen years. The leaders taught us how to study God’s Word for ourselves rather than depend on our favorite preacher or Bible study teacher to do it for us.

Nothing like stepping on my lazy toes right off the bat! It’s way easier to let my pastor or Beth Moore do the hard work, so I can just take notes.

As  the teachers shared a boat-load of Christian resources available to help us dig into the Word for ourselves, I thought to myself, “I am without excuse.”

There is no easier time to become a serious student of God’s Word.

Resources that used to be only accessible to theologians are right there on the internet for regular folks like you and me. You no longer have to have a seminary degree to break down the Word to its nuts and bolts. The Christian bookstore is chock-full of lexicons, commentaries, and Bible dictionaries, not to mention the Holy Bible in a dozen versions.

If, like me, your budget is tight, there’s still no excuse. The internet has sites like Bible Gateway, Bible Hub, and Blue Letter Bible with free study resources. The other day, I spent close to an hour perusing Bible Hub about one verse of the Bible. I read the verse in five or six translations, looked up some of the cross references, figured out the Greek definition of the key word in the text, and read commentary remarks written by a theologian long gone to heaven. I’ll blog about what I learned later this week.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the wealth of prepared Bible studies out there. There’s nothing wrong with subscribing to your favorite pastor’s podcast. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with sitting under the teaching of your personal pastor/shepherd.

We need to get as much “God stuff” in our minds as we can. We surely have plenty to learn from each other.

I’d be so bold to say that no Bible teacher or pastor worth his or her salt would want to be the sole source of a fellow Believer’s spiritual knowledge.

When we take the time to dig into the Word for ourselves, we invite God to shine His spotlight on precious gems, just for us. What a beautiful, intimate opportunity!

I imagine Him placing His hands over my upturned palms and placing perfect diamonds there. Just because I took the time to dig in the diamond mine of His Word with Him as my guide.

Thanks for my friend  Kristy and the Girlfriend Ministry team, I now understand that I need to be doing more than reading a quick devotional each day. I need to invest regular time in serious, intentional study.

Like any positive habit, it will require hard work and sacrifice. I will have to cut back on other things to make the time to study the Bible. My track record on good habit forming is kind of sketchy.

I need the strength and power of God to help me become a serious student and not just a spectator.

What about you, friend? Do you want to feel the beautiful weight of God’s diamonds in your hands? Well, let’s ask Him to help us dig deep into His Word.

Lord,

Thank you for Your Word, and thank you for the people out there who’ve caught the Bible study bug and care enough to challenge the rest of us to study, too.

I want to study, Lord, but not enough to truly change from spectator to serious student. If left to my fickle will and my faulty ways, I won’t change. I’ll keep taking the easy road where precious gems are few and far between.

I don’t want to be satisfied with Beth Moore’s hand-outs or my pastor’s breadcrumbs. I want to dig out some gems of my own. I want to crave that time with You. That time of communion. That time of discovery. That time of growth.

Help me to long for time with You more than I long for a few more minutes of sleep.

Help me to crave time in Your Word more than I crave time with my TV shows.

Help me to want to know You more than I want to know what’s on Facebook.

How shall [I] keep [my] way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With my whole heart I seek You; do not allow me to wander from Your commandments. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lordteach me Your statutes. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path   (Psalm 119:9-12, 105 MEV).

Blessings and fruitfulness come to those who delight in and meditate on Your Word. (Psalm 1:1-3). I want those blessings. I want that fruit. Meditation takes time, Lord. Keep me from rushing the process.

Your Word is “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10 NIV). I’ve experienced that sweetness on my tongue. Please help me get to the point that I can’t go a day without tasting that nectar.

Your Word “is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). I need that living, active, laser-sharp Word to make its mark on me.

The verse I’ve clung to since childhood flashes like neon in my spirit. “I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). By Your strength, I will study Your Word, and through study, I will know You better and love You more.

Your Word is life.

In the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh,  I pray,

AMEN

Do you have a favorite Bible study resource you’d like to share? Or would you like to start digging into the Word for yourself? Leave a comment, and let’s continue the conversation.

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Mining for Diamonds

  1. Sandra Timmons April 19, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Lee, so glad you joined us for the Getaway; it brought back very sweet memories of the times that you and Kristy spent together a “couple” of years ago. I loved looking out across the group and seeing your beautiful face looking back at me! I’m also happy and very grateful to God that you have taken the info that was shared at the Getaway and have started digging on your own; I can hardly wait to see your next blog to read what you learned from that digging. Love you as one of my own!

    • leebirdmerrill April 23, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      It was great spending time with you! 🙂

  2. Cindi janak April 19, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Another stellar post Lee! I would do well to just get a daily reflection in my schedule. Always striving to do and be better!

    • leebirdmerrill April 23, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks, Cindi! Time with God is always a good thing. 🙂

  3. Lynn April 19, 2016 at 10:36 am

    It is so nice to know that I am not the only one that dreaded going. I promised Michelle I would go if she did. I wound up truly enjoying myself. I am so glad I went and met all the new girlfriends. I am looking forward to the next retreat. I have found that as women we feel guilty taking time for ourselves. Being a single mother makes it even harder. I will never get caught up on the housework and farm work and I may as well get used to it. Loved the songs you chose. You did a great job! Everyone did.

    • leebirdmerrill April 23, 2016 at 1:09 pm

      It was great meeting you, Lynn!

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