Caroline called me this morning. Caroline, a small cheerful widow in her 80’s, is a member of the small church my family attends.
“Good morning, Lynne.” Came the fragile-sounding voice over the phone. “This is Caroline.”
“Hi Caroline.” I couldn’t help but smile through the phone call. When I hear this sweet voice, an image of her lined face and stooped shoulders floods my mind. “I used to be taller than you!” she is fond of telling me, every time I help her reach something from the cupboards in our church kitchen.
“Lynne, I am calling to see if you are interested in joining us for Wednesday morning Bible study again this fall.” Caroline always speaks slowly and distinctly. I wonder if she was a schoolteacher in her youth?
“I wouldn’t miss it.” I replied without hesitation.
“Oh! I am so glad!” she beamed, with genuine joy in her voice.
We chatted for several more minutes about happenings at church, and about others Caroline might invite to join us. I was still smiling as I hung up the phone because I have incredible, unexpected affection for the ladies in my Wednesday morning Bible study group. Unexpected, because at 42 years of age, I am BY FAR the youngest person who regularly attends this group study. Every one of these ladies has children older than me, and most of them have great-grandchildren.
When I arrive at the Wednesday morning meetings, the other women are always already there – punctuality is one of their common traits, but not mine. They have already prepared fresh coffee, and set out delicious banana bread that one of them has baked.
Soon we dig into our Bible study material. I am pleased to see that all of them have completed their homework, although Betty is quick to say in her southern Missouri accent, “I don’t know why I bother to write down my answers, I can’t read my own writing anymore!”
The faces of the ladies are eager. Their prayers are simple, yet sincere and full of hope. They take interest in one another’s questions, and are quite thrilled to relate a new bit of information, which God has given them to share. They are delighted and delightful learners.
I can’t help but notice the condition of their Bibles – how the pages are crinkled and the edges smudged. Betty’s Bible in particular has all kinds of papers sticking out of it, and random notes jotted in the margins. Ethel is often behind our discussion, because I see that she is sucked into scanning the verses that follow our reading, or she’s busy studying a map on the facing page, and she’s missed the study question we just read. That’s okay. She’ll have an interesting insight to add in a minute or two.
When I joined these ladies less than a year ago, I did so because I was new to the area, looking for friends and interesting ways to use my free time. To be honest, if I’d been able to attend a study group for a younger set, I’d have chosen that in a heartbeat - but not anymore. I am blessed beyond my imagination to be surrounded by these ladies who love the Lord Jesus so genuinely, and who take their role as disciples literally. They take their lessons to heart, and try to live out their faith.
I am reminded of a time when I witnessed this some months ago, when many of these ladies attended a lunch in honor of Doris’ 78th birthday. Betty had absent-mindedly left the restaurant without paying her bill. She realized her error, and came right back in to settle up. I overheard her say to the cashier with a bright smile, “I guess I forgot whose child I was!” And I grinned, remembering our discussion only days earlier during a study of 1st John.
God has given me a precious gift in allowing me to spend time with these dear women – these white-haired disciples of Jesus. I am pleased to be counted among them, and I would be honored to be as dedicated in seeking God when I reach their age.
Am I interested in joining their group this fall? Oh, I wouldn’t miss it.