Approximately three years ago, I began a Saturday morning Bible study breakfast for some friends with whom I’d been building relationships, hoping to lead them into a relationship with God and/or be an encouragement to their relationship with God.
It was a lot of fun. We rented an apartment clubhouse and I’d go in about 7 a.m., make my mother-in-law’s Famous Egg & Sausage Casserole, brew up coffee, slice fruit and generally get prepared — praying over each chair and table as I set up. By 8:15 they began stumbling in, still sleepy, but willing to get out of bed early to meet on Saturday. We played ice breakers, handed out door prizes, ate, laughed and got to know each other. I brought a 45-minute Bible lesson and we managed it all in one and a half hours, start to finish. In the span of a few years I had approximately 40 different women who came through the door and were taught and mentored.
Then last fall we had a series of events that occurred in our church in which a large portion of our already small congregation moved out of state for new jobs, due to high unemployment in our area. This occurred at the same time that the apartment association of the clubhouse we were renting doubled our fees. Suddenly we couldn’t afford to pay the rental fee for the club house. I brainstormed all sorts of scenarios: moving it to the church – something I didn’t feel was what God wanted me to do because I knew many of the women would not attend. I considered asking for a small donation to help pay for the rental, but again, didn’t feel that was what God was directing. So, as a last resort, I simply asked God what I should do. His answer was simple: Stop.
Stop? Stop a Bible study? But it’s going too good, God. Who will minister to these unchurched women? I’m having success here why would I quit?
Again, I heard: Stop.
So I made the announcement and stopped the Bible study. It was a very hard decision to explain, even to myself.
So, six months later, I look back on that decision and ponder what I learned from it.
1. I realize I am learning to trust His instruction even when it doesn’t make sense to me.
2. I find confidence that whatever God planned to be accomplished through the Bible study had been accomplished for this time and it was time to stop.
3. I understand that a plan that is birthed by God can be stopped at God’s discretion — ie: we should not beat programs (and ourselves) to death keeping something going past the time that God has decreed.
Too often, we can take a program that was birthed by God and when its time has been accomplished, and God allows obstacles to enter, we don’t ask if its fulfilled its purpose we – by hook and by crook – keep that program going.
The God who starts something is also able to say it’s time to stop. Listen carefully to what God is saying. Don’t start something unless God has told you to do so and definitely, do not keep it running longer than he says it should.