By Lynn Feeter
Last year Daniel challenged us with a Lenten task: to seek out someone to share time with in study of the weekly gospels. At the time he did so, I was at a spiritual turning point, although I didn’t realize it, and I jumped at the chance. I cannot begin to tell you what a gift he gave in holding out that task for me, or what a happy result it’s given me since I accepted it.
Over the past year I have come to look at scripture in a totally different way – still enjoying the study from a “head” standpoint certainly – but more so in a personal way, a way that lets the scripture really speak to me. Beyond the usual questions about how this scripture might resonate with me today, what the author is saying, and so forth, I find myself purposely looking at where the love of God is in the passage and questioning what I would ask God about the reading if I could. But then I realize I can ask. And I do. And while I can’t say I hear the voice of God physically whispering an answer in my ear, I know that if I keep myself open, the answer will come in some form or another, in His time.
I’ve also been more inclined to speak easily with God about things that trouble me or move me, as I would with a friend…more lateral than vertical as you might say. Prayer for me has become much more spontaneous, less “book bound.” This development, I believe, is a direct outgrowth of studying, sharing and praying with my “study pal,” and has brought a new richness and depth to my relationship with God that I would never have anticipated.
While learning to exercise more faith and trust, I have found a new comfort in difficult situations, knowing that when I get myself out of the way and let God work, the results can be astounding no matter how contentious the circumstances. I am not so naïve that I’m not aware that sometimes we all need to go through very difficult struggles. Some situations just will not work out as I might have hoped, but it has become a whole lot easier to realize that if they don’t, the world is quite likely not going to end over it. Knowing that my partner in study and prayer also experiences struggles and has conversations with God about puzzling stuff helps me to remember that I am not alone on this journey and that trust and faith really do pay off, often in unexpected ways. This is a huge step for someone who has always been expected in the work world to take charge and solve the problems. (Nine years in the military, 10 working for a major corporation, and even working as a therapist, where I oversaw several different programs, reinforced that.) My particular study partner has been a real role model for me on this.
Engaging in Christian study with a committed study partner opens doors I would never have imagined. I find it is possible to grow in ways that studying by myself cannot offer, if for no other reason than that one person alone cannot bring the viewpoints, questions, challenges, and experiences of two. (“Where two or three are gathered in my name…”) There is a closeness and affirmation in studying with another person. There is also the possibility of vulnerability in sharing your personal thoughts and perhaps being challenged by the other. But there is tremendous opportunity for growth–personally and spiritually. I wouldn’t trade this past year’s experience for anything.