Is the God of the Old Testament…?
My last two blogs have been about my mom who passed away two weeks ago. There’s part of me that thinks I should move on to other topics, but I just can’t manage to do that. And there’s so much good material. And I suspect it’s going to help me in the grief process. So if you’re tired of hearing about Jane Lamb, then perhaps you should check back on my blog in a few weeks.
My mom started a Bible study for women in Ames, Iowa (where we grew up) in the late 1960’s with her friend Win Stanford, whose husband John was a colleague of my dad’s in the Physics Department at Iowa State. In these types of Bible studies, the leader would ask text-focused questions, encouraging the women to discover the meaning of the text for themselves. (I’ve heard of “Bible studies” that watch videos, or read Christian books, both of which can be great, but I wouldn’t call either of those a “Bible study.” This may be controversial, but in a “Bible study,” I think you should study the Bible.) The leader was not the expert who enlightened others, but simply a question-asker who empowered others to encounter God in his word directly.
The initial Bible study became popular (part of the popularity may have been due to the fact that they provided child-care) and the group got big, so big that they had to split into two groups, and then those groups grew and also needed to split. I think it’s supposed to be called “multiplying,” but I prefer “splitting” because it is painful. Splitting was always hard relationally, but they knew that if more women were to be included, they would need to keep dividing. They decided it was worth the cost relationally to be inclusive.
Over the course of the next twenty years, the initial group led by Mom and Win became twenty Bible study groups scattered around Ames, with hundreds of women involved.
In 1979, Mom wrote a history of the Bible studies in Ames, listing the benefits to herself (these are her words):
1) Friendship. The women I know best are the ones I study the Bible with each week. I express my needs, joys and the express theirs. We get to know each other much better than casual friendships allow.
2) I am learning more about the Bible. I am learning the stories, the chronology and the thread of Christ running from Genesis to Revelation. But more importantly, I am learning that God speaks to me for my life, for my problems, for my successes today thru his word. And it is life changing.
3) I am learning more about myself. I am not introspective (I’m like mom in this regard), and do not think thru all my actions and motives. But as God speaks to me thru his word, I understand more clearly my motives behind these actions.
4) I get to know God better. And I desire to serve Him more. I want to see others come to know him.
These words of Mom were included in the program for her memorial service at Calvary Baptist Church of Lexington, Kentucky on August 11, 2012. Her legacy continues.