Welcome to Rooted Session 1 – we are so excited that you are here!
Identity is such a focal point in our society today. We only need look at the Instagram and Facebook culture to realise that there is such pressure to carve out our individualism. We’re constantly told to “find ourselves” and to “look inside ourselves”. We find our validity in what we perceive our identity to be and also around what others think about us. We hear of girls and young women tragically taking their lives because of social media bullying, or developing eating disorders, mental health issues, and so on.
But the problem of identity isn’t just an issue for the social media generation. Our identity changes throughout our lives, and as women, we have an extremely complex and emotional relationship with this.
To use an analogy, we might want to think of the seasonal cycle of a tree.
You might think of the springtime as the transition from childhood to adulthood – your branches are fresh and young, you are learning and growing, and starting to bloom into adulthood. Life is exciting and new and you have so much potential. Maybe you’re at school, at Uni, beginning your career, carving out friendships.
Then you reach summer and you start to mature. You bear fruit, whether that’s becoming a mother, having a career, realising your hobbies and ambitions. You might be strong, bright, productive, purposeful.
And then autumn comes and you might slow down. Perhaps your children grow up and leave to start homes themselves, your promotions at work begin to become less frequent, your focus shifts away from climbing ladders, to finding a more comfortable place in life. The leaves you were holding have now had their time, and you are able to release them back into the earth.
And finally, moving into winter, perhaps retirement, old age, your children now have children, and maybe even they have children. Your roots go deep into the earth. Life is much quieter but there is strength and wisdom there.
Now these are just examples, but at each of these stages, the treelooks different, has different purposes, different intentions, and different tendencies. But throughout these seasons of life, there is one thing that is constant. The tree is always a tree.
So throughout the stages of our lives, what is the one thing that is constant for us as Christian women?
Who we are in Christ.
Resources Required: Post-it notes and a pen.
Before we delve into the Bible, we are going to do a very quick exercise to help us get our minds focused on what we mean by “Identity”. What we would like you to do is write down the words that you associate with your identity – one on each post-it note. So for example, I might write my name on one, my job title on another, wife on another, good at cooking, bad at telling jokes, and so on. Give yourself 5-10 minutes to do this.
Ok, we’re going to put those words to one side now and start focusing on our Bible study for this session.
Resources Required: A Bible, a notebook, and a pen.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to John 4:1-18. In this session, we are going to be studying the passage about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Click here to listen to the passage. We would encourage you at this point to read along in your own Bible.[RECORDING OF PASSAGE TBC] – Click Here to listen to the passage
We’re going to spend time studying this passage now. You’ll find the study questions (Click Here). You’ll see a little ‘A’ or an ‘E’ next to each question – this shows whether the question is an examine or an apply question from REAP (see welcome page to remind yourself about REAP). Give yourself half an hour or so now to complete the study.
Once you have completed the study, we want to encourage you to listen to the passage being read out again. But this time, close your Bible, if you feel comfortable, close your eyes, and as you listen to God’s Word being read aloud, have a think about what you’ve learnt, how the passage applies to your life, and ask God what he might be wanting to tell you through His Word. The idea is to prayerfully “meditate” on this passage as you listen.
Click on the link to listen again.[RECORDING OF PASSAGE TBC] – Re add the link here
Doesn’t it feel like God is being glorified when His Word is read out loud?
Returning to your identity words you wrote on the post-it notes, what we would like you to do now is to spend 5 minutes sorting your words into two categories: “Temporary” or “Eternal”. For example, my job title, I’m not taking that to Heaven with me, so that’s a temporary one; Christian, that’s eternal, and so on. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes to sort your identity words. Let’s get sorting!
OK, now you have all your words spread out in front of you, have a look at what’s there and cast your mind back to Jesus’ reaction to the woman at the well. Imagine youare at the well. Jesus knows everything you have written down in front of you. He knows every word. He knows all the things you didn’twrite down – your insecurities about yourself, your biggest fears, and your past mistakes. You are known by Jesus. You are known.
Psalm 139 says:
1You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You are known, you are valuable, and, what’s more, Jesus’ offer of living water is open to you too.
Now, have a look over what you’ve got in your two categories. Doesn’t it strike you how much of your identity is in the temporary category? We don’t want to devalue any of these things – God has made us this way. Psalm 139 goes on to say that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, but going back to our tree analogy from the Introduction, these temporary things are the seasonal changes, and those in your eternal box, those are the tree; the constants that we can rely on.
The Bible itself tells us these aspects of our identity, and much, much more. Before we finish, we would love you to watch a quick video which shows us some of the things that God’s Word tells us about who we are in Christ. As you watch we want to encourage you to really read the statements and reflect on the fact that God is talking about you; these promises and truths are specifically yours.
These Biblical truths are what we are going to explore together through Rooted – these life-giving truths about who we are, and we are so excited to start this journey with you. You can download a list of all of the “I am” statements from the video with the Bible references (Click Here) so that you can reflect on these yourself at home.
You may also like to Click Here to download these “Questions for Contemplation”. These are further study questions for you to take away and complete at your leisure.
We would like to encourage you to end this session in prayer. You have done some great work in this session and it’s important that we pray for seeds that have been planted to grow and be nourished, and to pray that we would be protected from the enemy as we allow God’s work to be done in us.
If you are doing this study in a group, we would urge you to pray together. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
If you aren’t sure what to pray, here are some helpful prayer prompts to get you started. We’ve also included a prayer that you might like to repeat.
Thank you for joining us on this first session – we can’t wait to take the next steps with you.
Father, thank you that you are…
Thank you for…
Help me to start/continue to…
I pray for more…
Prayer to RepeatAdapted from www.living-prayers.com
Father, thank you for all the marvellous things you have done today.
Thank you for your love that you have revealed to us,
And for the love that we share together as your body.
We pray for all the words that you have sown into our hearts today.
Watch over them, protect them.
May they take root and produce wonderful things,
Things of beauty and great blessings to many.
And as we leave this place now, thank you that you walk with us.
May we be alert to your promptings and live in your endless love.
In Jesus’ name, we pray,