"Duh!" That's what I said to myself when it finally hit me. Hey, the fact that I'm in the over-the-hill gang does not mean I cannot pull this off! So, standing on a train platform in the middle of Asia, I whipped out my phone and recorded video greetings to each of the grandkids. "P-r-e-t-t-y slick," I congratulated myself, as I hit the "send" button. Well... maybe there is a little more to it than I thought.
Oh, I managed both to record and to send the greetings. But, somehow, by the miracle of modern technology, when my little video postcard made it halfway round the world to Ames, Iowa, 2 year old Caleb (hmmm... make that 2.5 year old, about-to-become-a-big-brother, Caleb!) immediately spotted a problem: "Silly Grandpa Stan. Upside down!" Whoops?! Fortunately, Caleb knew just how to fix things.
His full statement was, "Silly Grandpa Stan. Upside down. Get some coffee!!" Oh my. Has he really been making and archiving his own little video recordings throughout these last 2 (er, 2.5) years? Yep. He has clearly spotted the fact that when Grandpa Stan comes to visit, a dramatic change occurs in coffee consumption at Caleb's house! I wonder what else those little recordings in his brain contain?
While I wonder what fresh observation will spring "from the mouths of babes," I will take strength from the observations of many of my students this week. At the end of a very intensive week of Bible study, they were full of energy and excitement.
"I love the way you draw things out of us!"
"You find a way to affirm and encourage us, even when we share off-the-wall ideas."
"The more you encourage us, the more we see!"
That's it! I was hoping they would notice. Unlike my coffee drinking with Caleb, that is something Grandpa actually wants people to notice. Not for my sake, but for theirs. I pray that they will see what happens when study leaders use their position of authority to create a safe space for people to risk sharing what they think they see in the text. When they feel safe and encouraged, participants begin to trust their eyes more. They begin to trust their insights and their questions more. And as they do, they see more, and see better. And that is exciting. For all of us!
Our study was focused on the Gospel of Mark this week. I always love to see people have a fresh encounter with Jesus, as they have a truly fresh encounter with Mark's inspired way of telling Jesus' story. Once again, by the grace of God, that happened. And that is a wonderful reward, all by itself.
But I always hope for something more. I hope that participants will notice not only what we are learning together, but how. I am eager for them to catch a vision for how they, too, can nurture the adventure of discovery in others. I hope the impact of the week together will be multiplied. My prayer is always that participants will take what they have learned, and use it to help others enter into the same joy of discovery and encounter that they have experienced.
Time will tell, on this week's study. We live and serve in hope.
Of course, it is also nice, from time to time, to learn that the hope gets fulfilled. I'm grateful to report that happened again recently. A former student sent me an email that made my day--and more! The note explained that Bible study time in a church in the middle of the U.S. has been revolutionized as the new pastor has put into practice with them the approach he learned as we looked at the Bible together in a classroom, several years ago.
Thank you, Lord, for the chance to be part of what you do in the world. And thank you, Paul, for passing along the word!
And thanks to all of you who make these ministry activities possible, with your gifts and with your prayers! I am grateful for your partnership in the mission of Jesus. Wherever this finds you today, may you be blessed... and be a blessing to others!
Now... I'm going to give it another try with the phone camera. Caleb, have you seen Grandpa's coffee cup??