Standing ankle deep in a local river, watching our children splash, totter and sometimes tumble, a friend and I chatted, spilling forth whatever was on our mind. From wondering whether there’s something in the air that’s making our two year olds cry more this week, to chatting all things church, to debating the merits of munching a sandwich on the way home to stave off wrongly timed naps. What a blessing of a friendship, always ready to carry meandering, honest conversation wherever it needs to go when we meet.
Whenever we meet, which is often, we chat. Words fill the space, often competing with those coming from our verbose children who often ‘just need to tell you, Mummy’. This friend has been part of the Backyard Bible Study over the last few weeks, and so that chat-filled space has often been under-pinned by God’s word. Isaiah seeps into our conversation, naturally at the bible study but also as we stand in a river. And the friendship, I think, is richer as a result. Not just with Isaiah studies, but through sitting under God’s word at church and in our small group.
Our studies in Isaiah have just finished. The Backyard Bible Study continues, but we’re dipping into John’s gospel next, hoping to see Jesus in all the more magnificent glory as we come off the back of the Servant Songs.
I’m reluctant to leave Isaiah behind, having spent most of 2020 dwelling in these wonderful truths, and I’ve loved being in them with others in recent weeks. It’s made me wonder if there’s scope for these studies to go beyond my backyard. What if there was a way for another group of friends, or ladies from church, or sisters to gather together around the truths of Isaiah 40-55 and help each other love Jesus more as a result? I’d love to make Old Testament prophecy like this more accessible, and give people who might not go there on their own the opportunity to see Jesus in these rich, everlasting words.
I’ve taken the plunge and put together six sessions. There’s a 10 minute video helping us get our bearings and get into the text for each session, and then a handout with discussion questions for the group, and some leader’s notes so that someone in the group might feel able to facilitate conversation with confidence.
The first session is up on YouTube here. The next couple will be there by the end of the weekend.
The handouts and notes can be found here.
Please do get in touch at felicityjcarswell[at]gmail.com if I can help in anyway.
I’m praying that, even if it’s in the smallest way, these resources might be of use to someone. My prayer is that as we dig into Isaiah, we love God’s wise, saving servant plan and cling to Jesus and the cross more and more. I pray that we would have increasing confidence in the promises of God, and so be eager to anchor our whole lives in the person and work of Christ.
‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ (Isaiah 55v10-11)