I have been the VERY unfortunate teacher of Genesis of recent.
Boy! What a way to start an article, eh?!
Very. Unfortunate. Teacher. Of the Bible.
I sound like an extremely swell Christian, don’t I?
But let me elaborate, and I hope that you will join me for this article and journey.
You see, we have been following the reading encouragement of Good Morning Girls to read through the Bible with a group of ladies.
And we have had an AWESOME semester to date. The books have been fantastic, the conversations unbelievable, the ladies (from all over the world in our study: Poland, United States, Russia, Turkmenistan, India to name a few) have been purely lovely, and the topics OOOOH Boy! Tough.
But real women like TOUGH. Right?
Well, when it comes to reading the Bible, I say, “Eat nails.”
I believe the common expression is, “Eat your Wheaties!”
Or, in general, just prepare for the difficult. No wimpy women, please 😉 Okay, wimpy women still welcome.
We started by reading Esther. Then we read 1 and 2nd Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Psalm 1 and 2, and now we have been reading through Genesis.
But, you see, we did not start with an easy book. I mean, really? Is Esther really a lovely story about a young girl becoming a queen?
I don’t personally think so. I mean a queen was banished from her marriage and position because of her failure to satisfy the instruction of her husband.
And then women from all over the dynasty were chosen to come and present themselves to the king where he would get to decide upon a new queen. And Esther was chosen to be one of the potential suitors but was instructed to NOT share her heritage.
And then there was a plot to kill a king but his life was spared; later an entire race for failure to honor one man in authority; a woman that did not want pretty much any job given to her; then boldness accompanied by a change of heart—despite if she should die; later a hanging; and then the opportunity for the people scheduled to be slaughtered the right to defend themselves and their properties.
I mean. Esther. Did she really want to be queen? Did she have a choice? What fate did become of her later when one of Xerxes sons took over the throne?
And, yet, the conclusion is just as Esther states, (I’m paraphrasing), “Perhaps she was chosen and put in her position for ‘Such a time as this.'”
And currently, in Genesis, it has not gotten any easier.
Our conversations are honest and blunt. And we question the people in the Bible and the scriptures we have read.
And there is one question we find ourselves asking over and over again after watching these people fail big time. Not once. But once more. And then yet again.
We wonder—how can God use these people? They are okay. Pretty normal. Not that courageous or strong. Not too convicted at times or quick to make decisions that were not okay at others.
And why, sometimes, were such harsh punishments bestowed upon some?
And how could Abraham be considered a great man of faith? Not just once but twice he claimed that his wife was his sister so that his life would be spared? Wouldn’t it be better for him to defend his wife with his very life?
Oh, my, my friends. I haven’t even begin to touch all of the scripture we have covered.
Sodom and Gomorrah?
Tragic tragedy after tragic tragedy.
And we are not shying away from any scripture. Not any verse. Not any choice, decision, or consequence of action.
Lives altered. Years numbered. Families made. Families destroyed. Children had. Children abandoned.
Where am I going with this?
This past week as we finished reading through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot, his wife, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and the death of his wife, sons-in-law and then what took place after with his daughters, my stomach was sick and my heart heavy.
But let me first say, If you want to read a pretty story without gory details and blunt honesty, find a different book. The Bible has never shied away from sharing the ugly truth along with the redeeming truth.
And, if you only look at it in parts, you will miss the beauty.
Which also came by way of ugly. Death by brutal crucifixion.
But let me stop rambling and get to the title of this blog post: Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith.
You see, story after story in the Bible shows men and women taking life upon their own shoulders. They choose to be angry or self-indulgent. They choose to live loosely or make choices based on fear of their future. And they choose to go about their lives in ways that separate themselves from God.
Sin will always separate us from God.
And, believe it or not, when we fail to live in faith we have opened up a whoop-bottom (I did want to write the other word for emphasis) can of trouble.
Because when we fail to live in faith we fail to teach faith.
And that, my friends, is the moral of my rambling…
So many times through the scriptures we have read so far, people have taken it upon their own shoulders and lives to make decisions EVEN if God has directed them in a different path.
As I continue to teach through the scriptures, not shying away from any, I had a HUGE heart check!
Am I faithful to teach my children that despite an overwhelming task set before me; despite fear of the future of the unknown; or despite feeling as if better is deserved—I must teach faith!
As a Christian that believes wholly in God the father and the gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, I struggle daily. I struggle daily with doing things my own way.
I struggle with fear. Fear that what I believe needs to take place and how it may not come to fruition.
I struggle with trust. Trusting that if I remain faithful to God’s instructions, His way will be done.
And perhaps that is also why I struggle. Because what if God’s will is not my will? What if I desire a different outcome in my finite mind than he has planned in all of his omnipresent knowledge?
All of these questions and doubt and fear are probably EXACTLY why the scriptures in the Bible share the blunt honesty of the stories of the men and women in them.
Because these people were not perfect. They were not all full of “God is awesome and I will never sway in my faith of him!’
They were human. Human and fearful. Human and fearful and real.
And real is sometimes very ugly.
Ugly and not understood.
We can all shake our heads in understanding. What we need to do, however, is STOP.
Stop living in fear. Stop living in half-hearted faith. Stop living as examples of “I’ll take care of this on my own!”
You may not know the future. Heck, you may not even know your current present. But what you do need to know is that God is here in your present. And God is there—in your future.
And I believe one of the main reasons the scriptures are so clear to show the good with the bad and the ugly is so that we can see that God has always had a plan, but sometimes we like to try to change it—instead screwing it all up.
And the greatest lesson I have learned along this reading journey is this. God’s way will be done. But how we go about fulfilling it or accepting it is up to us.
Do I want to live in fear of the unknown and make choices along the way that God had wished I wouldn’t. Teaching my children and those around me that faith is only okay when I don’t have fear?
Or do I want to live in faith. Making difficult decisions along the way despite the unknown, my faith remains?
In faith, I am choosing the latter. And, I hope through my life, my children learn to trust and have faith. That my children learn to overcome fear. That my children learn that God has, is, and will be there.
And we are to live according to His Will in our lives-even if we are unsure what that is.
Because that is what it means to have faith. And this is what I hope to teach.
After all, as FDR once stated, “…the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
And when you choose fear over faith, you, too, are paralyzing your efforts needed to convert retreat AWAY from God’s will in your life to ADVANCE for what plans he has for you.
Today, my friends, that is what I pray for me. For my husband. For my children. And for you.