After a long day of drop-offs and pick-ups, meetings and meeting needs, opening our home and our hearts to more people is usually the last thing I naturally want to do.
Yet, every time we host a small group or Bible study, I go to bed both tired and satisfied.
I love quiet. I love calm. And these are nearly always on backorder in a household of three growing boys in the context of ministry. I feel like I can barely keep enough food in our pantry for our children. As such, thinking for snacks for weekly guests grows my task list, my grocery bill, and my already-overflowing shopping cart. Keeping up with basic cleaning is a challenge for me, so getting the boys’ shared bathroom in suitable condition for strangers feels like a Herculean task.
However, once the people are finally gathered in our backyard, at our table, or on our couch, all those concerns flee. Once God has gathered saints and strangers in our home, I am reminded of the priority of persons in the economy of the kingdom. Sentient, living, breathing, burden-bearing souls come to our home each week to be received by other sentient, breathing, burden-bearing souls. We talk about the weather and the latest taco spot, but we also share tidbits of our stories. We multiply each other’s joys and divide each other’s sorrows. For some portion of an evening, we are reminded that there are cares outside the casing of our own hearts.
In the Church, small group leaders do a lot of heavy lifting. They faithfully accommodate their homes and hearts to others. They are tempted to grow weary in well-doing, especially when it does not seem like huge things are happening week in and week out.
This temptation to have drooping hands and hearts is not new to the church. In fact, the writer of Hebrews continually reminded the Jewish believers to keep going in the seemingly ordinary act of regularly meeting together.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25)….
Over the years, I’ve participated in many Bible studies. Some were specifically for women in my age and stage of life, such as college and career, young marrieds, or those in the trenches of motherhood. Other studies included a mixture of women from varying ages. Yet even in those studies, I found myself gravitating toward my peers—women who were pursuing their careers or busy at home with young children or running everywhere with their pre-teens. I wanted to connect with women who knew what I was going through, who shared in a mutual understanding of the challenges of juggling work and home life or who were also wrangling little ones or navigating the challenges of the teen years.
Recent years have found me in a Bible study where the majority of women are not in my age or stage of life; rather, they are older than I. These women are at or near retirement. Their daily concerns are not centered on the logistics of family life with children. Their conversations don’t focus on the daily challenges of work at the office. In fact, many have big concerns about real and frightening health issues. Or heart-breaking relational issues with their adult children and grandchildren.
But you know what? Despite the difference in age, experience, and concerns of daily life, we have one key thing in common: our love for Christ. We are sisters in the Lord and these older, wiser sisters have taught me much. As it turns out, in the Kingdom of God, age is not a barrier to understanding. Just because someone is in a different stage of life than I, it doesn’t mean they can’t relate to me; rather, age is a bridge that leads to valued treasure—for the wisdom gained after years of walking with the Lord is a wealth of untold measure, a wealth we can all benefit from.
Three Reasons to Study the Bible with Older Women
God designed it that way: It may seem elementary—a truth many of us know—but it’s an important one to revisit. The Bible doesn’t say much about women’s ministry. Except in one place: Titus 2. In Paul’s letter to Titus, he instructs Titus in what a gospel centered church looks like. In the second chapter, he gives Titus specific instructions for various groups in the church, including women. That’s where Paul exhorts older women to disciple younger women (vv.3-5).
These older women were to be spiritual mentors to the younger women in the church. They were to teach them what it means to love and submit to their husbands, how to glorify God in their mothering, and what it looks like to be a woman of God. These older women were to take what they learned from Titus’ preaching, apply it to their own lives, and then in turn help the younger women apply the gospel to their lives.
Whether it is in one-on-one discipleship, a Titus 2 small group, a Bible study, or in an informal relationship, we all need to learn from older women. And what better way to learn than in the context of studying God’s word? As we dig into the Scriptures together, our older sisters in Christ can point us to truth. They can model for us how to live out the gospel in our daily lives….