benefits of cross-generational Bible study
We are four ladies, tea cups in hand, walking life and Colossians side-by-side around that cozy dining room table. Three Mennonites and one Baptist. One approaching thirty, one approaching ninety. Three Grandmothers and me.
When I moved to Canadaland as the new girl, my first goal of survival was to find a ladies Bible study to join. Community on the shared foundation of Christ in a new country was a noble goal, but not easily accomplished. I asked around, begged for referrals, scoured local church websites, and finally found this Precept group and connected via email. Friendship takes time, of course, and it wasn’t until I cried my way through a verse in Psalm 119 that I finally found myself surrounded not only by classmates, but also friends. Friends who could’ve been my grandmothers.
In a church culture that seems to relish age segregation and applaud gender integration, my ladies-only, cross-generational Bible study is a blessed anomaly.
My crew of Grandmothers are a wealth of life experience and have the wisdom (and gray hair) to show for it. As I still fight to hide my gray hairs (a losing battle, unfortunately), I must realize that “the glory of young [wo]men is their strength, but the splendor of old [wo]men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29). I don’t feel wise enough (or old enough) to see the pride of my gray hair, but these ladies know that “gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
Poring over Scripture with seventy and ninety-year-olds forces me to accept a startling reality: I will never “arrive”. If an eighty-seven-year-old hasn’t attained perfection even in all her years of godly living and Christ focus, then my failed attempts at thirty should not be a discouragement. On the contrary, I can rest in the gracious God who will continue to love me and sanctify me until I reach heaven and its Ultimate Perfecton.
“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)
We swap boy stories, giggle over failed blind dates, confess weakness, share triumphs. We pray together, laugh together, cry together. Somehow, friendship transcends the several decades of age gap and brings community and comraderie. Despite the forty (or sixty!) year difference in life experience, we are all women, and we are all faced with the bitter and beautiful realities of our shared humanity.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26)
My Bible study ladies are my adopted moms and grandmas (even if they don’t always know it!). Being 3500 miles from my own family, having prayer warriors and cheerleaders and friends in town is a joy. It’s lovely to be loved and especially lovely when love isn’t expected. I’m not sure these ladies realize the impact their kindness has had on my life, but their phone calls, emails, excited greetings, and kindness are overwhelmingly beautiful.
As they have lived their lives, these ladies have actively fulfilled the admonishment of Proverbs 31: they are strong, beautiful, hard-working, kind women. “Strength and dignity are [their] clothing, and [they] laugh at the time to come” (Proverbs 31: 25). As I strive toward a life filled with these qualities, these women serve as pillars of example to me. “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (v. 28).
Imagine potlucks and desserts with the best chefs imaginable who all bring their A-game and create decadent feasts. Mama’s cooking is awesome, Grandma’s cooking is THE BEST, and three such kitchen experts? Divine.
My ultimate triumph, of course, comes when I somehow manage to make a dish worthy of their praise. When my Bible study ladies ask for a recipe? Talk about a compliment!
If you ever have a chance to be accepted into a group of older women, take full advantage of the privilege. Feast on their wisdom, relish their renewing perspective, cherish their love, and enjoy their food. But, in the meantime, remember Paul’s admonishment to Timothy:
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
I too have belonged to a Bible study consisting mainly of women 10, 20, even 30+ plus years older than me. And I can truly say they have been one of my biggest blessings in my life. They give me such encouragement that they still deeply love the Lord, they are still seekers of greater knowledge and truth of the scriptures and have walked faithfully and and humbly in their Christian walk. They have greater excitement and zeal than women half their age. They’ve walked through many hardships in life and faithfully testiify to God’s love and goodness throughout it all. I am honored to call them my sweet and dear friends and sisters in Christ!
This is sweetness on so many levels!