Rounding out our spotlight on our recent Equip Her classes, Elisa Lackey shares with us her thoughts from this past semester in Selah where she studied The Book of Ruth and “Seeing God in Your Story.”
For 12 weeks, Selah read through and meticulously analyzed The Book of Ruth. For those who grew up in the church, Ruth is a very familiar book of the Bible. For those who are newer to the church, this was a new story. I fell into the latter category. This was the first time I’ve read Ruth in its entirety; I loosely knew the storyline behind it but never actually READ the entire thing. I challenged Renee and Stacey with questions that I’m sure they weren’t prepared for, like, “Was Boaz single? He had to be single right? This is a love story and of course he wasn’t married, right?!” They gently broke the answers to my questions with great love (and a little laughter). And while Ruth was our biblical focus for the semester, I think the real story was the one that unfolded with Part II of our study guide . . . “Seeing God in Your Story.”
For those of us who have had the pleasure of hearing Sara Eyster (Renee’s mother-in-law) speak before, we’d already heard of this exercise where you map your story to find God in your story. (Spoiler alert . . . He’s EVERYWHERE!) For most of us, looking back on our stories makes it glaringly obvious that He is, indeed, everywhere, even if we may not have recognized it during the time.
I will be the first to admit that this part of the class was one I really tried to fight. I didn’t want to do it, I put it off, I ignored it . . . I basically told myself that I didn’t need to do it because I’d only let one person down when it came time to share my story. When trying to work through the first couple of pages, I was fighting with how I thought others wanted my story to unfold . . . the same story that I’ve lived. I felt that somehow their expectations would play out on the pages rather than the journey I had walked. I was wrong. [Enter God]
I received a text message the day before the final class from Stacey asking me to be the one to share my story with the ENTIRE Selah group the next day. (Not only is my God a loving God . . . He has a very funny sense of humor!) I quickly realized that this was the push I needed to put away what I thought the activity was and to “just do it.” So, of course, I waited until the next morning to actually do it – the same morning that I had to speak in front of the group . . . and I was amazed at what I learned, not only about myself but about God.
As I worked my way through the table graph and questions, the one thing that stuck out was the constant theme of “strength”—strength that I had during difficult times, strength for others when they needed it, strength when it was unexplainable, and strength that certainly wasn’t my own. As I wrapped up the exercise, I chuckled to myself as I remembered the first day after I bought my very first Bible and was doing one of the recommended activities in it. I stumbled across the verse that became “my” verse . . . the very first verse I memorized . . . the verse that, when it pops up here and there, lets me know God is near.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Like I said a few paragraphs ago, Spoiler Alert . . . God is EVERYWHERE! Sometimes we just need a little push to look for Him.
In closing, I really want to take a few sentences to tell you all what Selah—Renee, Stacey & Co.—have meant to me over the last 3 years. I went from an unknown outsider when I first joined to a prayer group leader because of this community. I’ve learned what living life with Jesus is and how amazing life can be with grace. I’m not sure what life would be like without Selah, but am so happy I don’t have to know. God knew what He was doing when He put joining a bible study on my heart, even though it was a HUGE leap and completely opposite of anything I had done before. Because of this group, I can proudly say that I will be surrounded by the most amazing group of women when I am baptized on Sunday, May 19th