I have been blessed by my Community Bible Study over the past two years. Last year, we learned about Paul’s missionary journeys in the Book of Acts. This year, the studies included Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and two letters to the Thessalonians.
Several years ago, I threw Paul out of my Bible. I did not like the things he had to say about women. My God would not espouse those stifling ideas for the female gender. The verse, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, II Timothy 3:16 came from Paul’s pen. He was not including his writings in that category. He had no idea his writings would become scripture!
A New Testament scholar and professor who attended my church opened my eyes to what Paul seemingly wrote about gender which has been misconstrued over the years due to improper translation or our ignorance of their culture and the issues within their churches. She proved to me Paul was a feminist! Thus, I allowed him back into my canon.
The overarching theme I have gleaned from these studies of Paul is — to be joyful in all circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4. We can rejoice, because everything is ordained to happen by God Himself.
When we remember God’s ways are best, we can relax. He has a purpose for everything — plans to prosper you, giving you hope for the future, as stated in Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. After my daughter died, I threw that verse out too. Well, not really, because I thought it only applied to the ancient Israelites, to whom it was written. It did not apply to us today.
Then I saw God’s plan unfolding as time went on. God had prepared for Karin to be absent from this world! He did have a plan and purpose for her family and for my life! It meant more “tragedy” would come, and I would lose my spouse to adultery after 42 years. But God’s peace is in my soul. I have the inner joy which Paul propounds.
A sermon I heard recently was titled “Out of Control.” In this world, we often feel out of control. Things happen over which we have no power. Yet God tells us: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7.
Even though I know better, sometimes the evil one brings worrisome thoughts to mind. In fact, as I brushed blush on my cheeks one morning last week, I found myself fretting — wondering how to escape from a bothersome situation. A voice came to me: “Why are you worrying? It is in my hands. Everything will be OK.”
OK, God, I won’t fret! I will calmly wait for your resolution.