It was Tuesday evening at the end of 2016. We had just finished another Bible study series. For the record, I have taught this class for women 4 or so years and I always create and write my own material. I had been considering what I wanted to teach next when I had an idea. I approached one of the young moms in the class and asked her to think about the lessons we had been doing and consider what she would like us to study next.
I have taught books of the Bible. I have done topical studies. I told Jen to choose a book she wanted to learn more about or pick a subject or issue she wanted to discuss. I told her that while I didn’t consider myself a strong Old Testament scholar, I didn’t want that to limit her. I always get as much out of each of our studies as the women in the class. It might be a great idea for me to dig into the Old Testament for a change.
A week or two later, I asked Jen in class if she had any suggestions for our next series. After thinking for a few minutes, she talked about being discouraged when she showed a lack of faith. She wanted a study that would help her remain strong when her faith was weak. Is that possible? she wanted to know.
Sure! I held up my Bible and told her, and the rest of the class, that the Bible had many stories about people that showed strong faith during trying times. Even more important, the Bible is FILLED with stories about people that showed an incredible lack of faith when they should have been strong.
The next day, I went to work, seeking stories that would show both sides of faith. I decided to make our study 24 lessons long with 12 from the Old Testament and 12 from the New Testament. I would alternate weeks, first sharing a story where someone was lacking in faith when they should have been strong, and the next week offering a story when someone showed great faith against the odds.
Part way through the series, I began developing a new message focus as I prepared to restart my speaking ministry. I wanted to have books and other materials to support my message and I knew just what I wanted do. Building on my Simple Joy message, I began developing The Guilty Mommy Guide to Life material. Without going into details, the initial basis of this message is that the guilt moms feels so often is actually a symptom of our fear. Fear of what others might think. Fear of what they might say. Fear that we might do the wrong thing and so on. As I prepared this message, it became clear that courage is not the opposite of fear. Faith is the opposite of fear. We can be courageous and still very afraid. However, when we are afraid we lose faith; faith in ourselves, faith in others, faith in God.
As I considered the relationship between faith and fear, I realized that conflict is the actual subject of this study. People in each of these lessons act out of either faith or fear. We often react the same way when we find ourselves in the same situation, especially when it comes to fear. We are afraid and our faith goes right out the window. By studying their examples, we have the opportunity to avoid them. And boy, the Bible is full of good examples of what not to do!