The Disciple's Heart class started this past week. I was excited about it and nervous at the same time. I've been looking forward to being in this class since before I moved here... and it's already stretched me quite a bit, after just one session!
We were given a devotional workbook on our first day of class. Bro Buddy wrote it. It's called Gems for Jesus. OK... I have to be perfectly honest... the title *does* make me cringe, especially in light of all the gemstone nonsense that's been popular in some charismatic circles. But it's just a word association thing... the book itself has nothing to do with all that & predates it by a couple of decades.
Basically, it gives some guidelines for having a morning devotional time and provides space to record what you're reading and what you're learning.
No big deal, right?
The guidelines were a little intimidating to me. I'm used to reading the Bible every day and checking off a few chapters in my Bible reading plan... but the Gems thing is a little more involved than that.
First, you're supposed to get quiet for a moment and focus on God.
Quiet doesn't come easy for me! My mind wants to go in about a million directions! It's been taking me about 15-20 minutes just to get to where I can stay completely focused for about a minute.
Then, you're supposed to spend some time in praise and worship. I still find my mind wandering...
Then, you're supposed to "sense God's timing" to open your Bible. That was also a challenge. I mean, isn't pretty much ANY time a good time to open your Bible? I understand what we're trying to accomplish -- to actually spend time with God rather than rush through some assigned Bible reading -- but this has proven more difficult than I had anticipated.
Then, when you're reading the Bible, you're supposed to watch for something to jump out at you or grab your attention -- then focus on that, because that's probably what God is trying to show you in that passage. So... what do you do if you're reading and reading and nothing "jumps out"? I've read the Bible and had something "jump out" at me before, but honestly it hasn't been an every day thing. Maybe that's just because I wasn't looking?
Part of my problem, tho, was just fear. I still don't fully trust my ability to know what's God and what's not when there isn't a black-and-white directive from the Bible. So this devotional excercise -- looking for one particular thing that "jumps out" at you and focusing on it as something that God is saying to you right then -- that's a little scary to me. I've been involved in some churches in the past where a lot of things were based on what God supposedly told the leadership to do... so I'm still a little gun-shy about saying that God showed me something, even if it was in the Bible. After all, how would I know if it really was God showing me that, or just me wanting to see it?
My first morning of doing these devotions was pretty discouraging. My mind was constantly wandering and nothing "jumped out" when I was reading the Bible. The second morning, I was a little less nervous so it didn't take quite as long to get focused. Something caught my attention in the Bible, but I wasn't really sure if it was "jumping out" or if it just resonated because it's something that my pastor has been teaching on lately. But the third morning, something definitely *did* jump out at me, and it was completely relevant to where I was and what I've been struggling with. (Maybe I'll share some specifics in a future blog.)
I'm looking forward to my next class tomorrow... can't wait to see where all of this goes!