It's All Christ

5:00 AM

"Apart from me you can do nothing."  These words rang in my ears as I finished my Nationals planning session Sunday afternoon.  (My mom says that "Nationals planning session" sounds like our whole family gets together to plan how we will study for Nationals.  That's not what I'm talking about :).  What I'm talking about is me sitting down with a calculator, calendar, and notepad, and making goals for what to study and when to study it.) Yes, by God's grace, I did qualify for Nationals!  I'm looking forward to seeing some of you in San Antonio this November!

Yesterday and Saturday, many of you found out your rankings.  Some of you were probably thrilled when you found out that you had qualified for Nationals or finally made it into the top whatever after trying so many times.  Others of you were probably devastated when you heard that you hadn't qualified, or maybe you were just very discouraged to find out that you didn't do as well as you normally do.  Or perhaps, like me, you just looked at your ranking and shrugged, laughed, and wondered, "Where did that come from?"  I expected one thing before the test, and another thing after the test, and this wasn't either.  This has been a week of surprises for all of us.  I don't think I've ever gotten a rank that I expected.  Ever.  And this is my fifth year in Bible Bee now.  I've gotten better recently about not screaming and then crying for joy when I hear my ranking, but I still am tempted to let how I do in Bible Bee affect my outlook on life.

You may not have this same problem, but I know that I often can let my identity be found in how I do in Bible Bee.  I'm not the sort of person that is very smart, musical, athletic, or all-around good at everything.  When I fail at other things, I comfort myself, "You made it to Nationals x number of times.  You were in semis last year.  You ranked ahead of ______."  Instead of finding security in the love of my Heavenly Father which is far more than I can imagine, I look to myself.  Obviously, this is wrong.  I was recently sharing my testimony with a good friend, and I told her about how I doubted my salvation when I was about 11.  The reason for this doubt was that I was looking to myself to see if I measured up to what I thought a true Christian was.  When we look to ourselves, we will be sure to fall.  This is why we need to look to Jesus while running this race (Hebrews 12:1-2).  If we get distracted by the crowds, we'll trip.  If we look at our own shoes, we'll bump into something.  But if we look to Jesus, He will guide us.

Depending on where you ranked, you may be tempted to either blame yourself for how you did or ascribe glory to yourself.  Now, I'm not saying that we should lay around and be lazy about our studying, but in the end, it's all in God's hands.  Apart from Him, we can do nothing.  Yes, that verse is talking about bearing fruit, but it is true in all of life, too.  We can't receive anything unless God gives it to us.  When we congratulate ourselves on our scores, we are honoring the painting rather than the artist.  We are not the ones who do the work, but rather, God works in and through us.  It brings so much comfort to know that we are not in control.  If the thought of not being in control frightens you, then there's a problem.  We know that our God is infinitely wiser than we are, so we should trust in Him.  This gives so much peace (Isaiah 26:3).  No matter your score, God planned it for you, and it is exactly what is best for you.  Remember Romans 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Congratulations to all of you!  To those of you who didn't qualify -- continue to memorize and study Scripture!  Set goals for what you would like to memorize between now and next Locals, and make plans for how to study.  Be consistent and diligent, and you'll notice that it gets a lot easier the more you do it.  To those of you who did qualify -- praise God!  He has given you a very special way to spend your Fall; use it wisely.  This will probably be a life-changing and eye-opening experience for you as you study God's Word like you never have before.  Look to Jesus through it all.  He is the One who gives strength.

"The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made."
Psalm 145:9

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  1. Thank you, Anna, for sharing! This is so good! As I read along, I kept thinking "yes, this applies to me!". It's funny that you should talk about finding our identity in Christ because this is something I struggle with and God has been showing me lately. Thank you again for this encouragement! Can't wait to see you all in November! -Kaitlyn

    1. Thanks, Kaitlyn! Yes, it is so easy to let our identity be found in how we do in BB. One thing that God has been teaching me recently is that He loves me, and that's all that matters.

      We were so happy to hear your ranking (several of us screamed)!


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