June 18, 2009 | My Jottings
One of my favorite things in all of life has just begun. Every summer for the past eight years, I have hosted a women’s Bible study in my home. Years ago our first study was Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, and we have done a Beth Moore study each summer since then. Every single one has been a blessing. This year I was feeling led to depart from our usual format and try another author, and based on a couple of trusted and glowing recommendations, we started on Mary Kassian’s Conversation Peace Tuesday.
There are ten of us who crowded together in my den, and I believe we all want the same things: for God to help us walk closely with Him, for our love for Christ to grow, and for Him to touch our lives and the lives of our families in powerful ways.
The cartoonish cover of our workbooks might make one think that this seven-week study is rather simple and light-hearted. But I don’t think that’s the way it’s going to be. We’ll be studying one of the most needed (at least in my life) and most difficult-to-achieve feats in life: controlling our tongues. Making sure our words are always constructive, loving, careful, tempered, true, gentle, and encouraging. I can’t speak for others, but I know that for me, this is an impossible task without God. I tend to be a whiner when life gets difficult, and my speech default mode is often complaining or speaking too brusquely. I lack gentleness. Thankfully, Jesus Himself tells me in the Scriptures that with God, all things are possible.
Here are a few nuggets from Mary Kassian’s study:
“Your tongue can take you into calm or troubled waters or make or break your relationships,”
and “a wound inflicted by the tongue bleeds the spirit more severely than a wound inflicted by the sword bleeds the flesh,”
and “if you choose to use your tongue as a sword, your relationships will experience perpetual calamity. On the other hand, if you choose to put your sword in its sheath (a mark of peace and friendship), pound it into a plow, and begin to till the soil of your relationships, you will reap rich rewards,”
and finally “humble people relinquish the right to control. They are acutely aware of their own fallibility when it comes to judging correctly. Thus they offer judgments cautiously, with a humble rather than a demanding spirit. They relinquish the right to arrogantly coerce or force others to agree with their opinions.” Yikes. Ouch. Ouch.
Just our gathering together each week, every summer, is a collective declaration of hope and faith. As the ten of us sing a hymn to settle our hearts and help us to focus on God instead of ourselves (O blessed relief!), as we quietly pray and invite God’s presence to be with us, as we share our stories, our heart’s desires and desperate needs, as we listen to the teaching and take in what God has to say to each of us individually, we demonstrate the hope and expectation we have in our God and His marvelous ways.
Today, along with the myriad things on my to-do list, I will sit down and begin my summer study. The first thing I see on the page is this statement: “Our tongues determine the direction of our lives.” I have long known what direction I want to go, but have frankly found myself too often driving in circles, going around the same huge mountains, ending up on the same dead-end roads I thought I had left years ago.
I do not take lightly the privileges and freedoms we have. We can meet for this study openly and legally, without fear of arrest. In many countries, some of God’s choicest servants cannot count on that. We have access to any Bible study in print, and most of us have multiple Bibles within reach. Some followers of Jesus are thrilled to have just a few torn pages of His Word, and treat it like the gold that it is. But most of all, we have the promise that if we sincerely call out to God, He is there and ready and able to help. Our access to Him is never cut off.
Today I am very thankful to know that He is right here when I need Him.