‘The questions feel like heart work rather than homework’, said my friend in between the ongoing commentary on the passing ducks given by our accompanying two and three year olds.
She was talking about our Tuesday evenings spent in Mark’s gospel, and the discussion questions that have been fuelling conversation over the weeks. The comment was perceptive and precious, and reminded me of the profound realities of opening up the Bible together.
Throughout the Scriptures, it’s really evident that God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, works through His word.
God himself is ‘doing stuff’ as we read, grapple with and ponder the Bible. Mark’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus is concerned by internals rather than externals. He is about the heart rather than outward appearances. It is is the unseen humbly sacrificial widow who is praised rather than the loudly praying and parading priests.
And so it makes sense that as God works through His word, by His Spirit, it is the heart that is being softened and changed and shaped; and made to be more like Jesus. As our crowd of women gather around Mark’s gospel, spilling in from hectic kids’ tea times, intense working days and all the rest, God is at work. Hearts are being changed.
We gather under the banner of a church women’s bible study, which sounds like homework would be a requirement. But my friend was right. We study, but it’s heart work that’s going on and the fruit is wonderfully evident as I look around the room on a Tuesday evening.
Women listening to one another as they seek to understand the passage. Loving one another as they show up not just for themselves, but for the others in the room. Praying for one another, and leaning into each others’ lives as the chat continues on past the end of the study.
That humble widow was the stand-out gem from our study this week. Challenged by her whole-hearted love for the Lord, we prayed that God would work in our hearts, making us more like her. I love that the prayer is evidently being answered before the words were even uttered. Heart work in full flow as we gather around His word week in, week out.