Every journey begins somewhere. Ours began on Twitter.
Through some providential twists, we Followed each other and started RTing each other’s tweets. I had no idea that I was his internet crush: he was “trying not to be creepy” and succeeded in giving me no hints at all. I thought he was an Interesting Human. We graduated from Internet Strangers to Casual Acquaintances, and then got into some really interesting discussions that went to DM… when he tweeted a shelfie of his bookcase and I spotted all the Bible translations and commentaries. It went from there.
About two months and several hundred conversations later, we were In A Relationship. I hadn’t been In A Relationship for ten years, so this was a big deal for me. About six months in, I shyly popped the question.
“Let’s do Bible Study together?” I asked.
I was really nervous about asking, for some reason. I think that doing a Bible Study together, or praying aloud with someone else is the most intimate thing you can do. Not to be taken lightly is the invitation of the Divine to be among you; you don’t step into the presence of a King without some initial sense of shyness, even if you are allowed to walk in boldly because the King is also your Brother, Father and Friend. When you are with Him, you bare your soul. When you are doing that with another human in the same room, you had better be sure of that human. Vulnerability with the Lord comes easily to me; vulnerability with others does not.
I’m not going to include the vulnerable, personal stuff we talked about here. We only wanted to share perspectives, reading lists (!) and questions; we found we spent most of our time critiquing the questions themselves in the study guides we used, so that was behind our idea to write our own. At least, to write more open questions, and less leading ones that betray the author’s personal theology a bit too much, rather than leaving room for other interpretations.
We ended up deciding to go through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter, book by book. All 66 of them.
After nine months we are still on Genesis, and decided we should blog about it to keep us going, and because we found that we were asking different questions than the study guide was asking us — we wondered if others were in the same boat, and if so, maybe they’d be interested in reading said blog. If not, it’s still a good incentive.
My partner R is High Anglican, with a “yes, but not yet” calling to the Anglican priesthood from the age of 17 which he prayerfully revisits every 3–6 months; he believes in the priesthood of all believers and doesn’t believe in the preisthood, so that’s how he’s pretty sure it’s a genuine call. God will make it clear when the answer is “now”. He is now in his thirties. So far, so “not yet”.
I’m the more traditional, doctrinal one. This, despite my early years influenced positively by a combination of Greek Orthodoxy and Welsh Baptist traditons (I am a member of an English-speaking Welsh Baptist congregation), and my parents not identifying as Christian. My mother believes in God but has issues with Christianity/Christians; my dad identifies as Muslim although he doesn’t go to mosque, but encourages my faith and has fond memories of my Baptist church. I’m also in my thirties. I do not have a vocational call to ministry at the time of writing, but am open to the call of being a vicar’s wife.
Of the two of us, it’s often hard to tell who’s the more/less Protestant.
Doing the Difficult Devotions
I was 29 when we met, and (eventually) started the Difficult Devotions. They weren’t meant to be difficult. We had the idea that we could go through the whole Bible, book by book, and use various study guides along the way. When it took us seven hours of intense discussion over about two days to get through Genesis 1, we realised that we weren’t going to be able to do this every weekend. We had to gather more materials. We had to devote several hours to it, and then add on extra time. It’s been about nine months now and we’re still on Genesis 14. We are long-distance, and work different shift patterns, so with our personal devotions, churches and my home group mid-week it’s hard to fit in that amount of extra time when we’re apart a lot!
Full disclosure: this is a long-haul thing. We hope that like-minded people (if any exist!!) will find this useful. We will provide references and Further Reading lists that might be, even if our ramblings are not!