In the early years of ministry, God kindled within Colleen a deep affection for studying and teaching the scriptures.
She deeply desires to see women anchor their hope in the God of the Bible as they get to know Him through the study of His Word. She serves as Minister to Women at Church at the Cross in Grapevine, Texas, and she speaks at women’s retreats and conferences throughout the year.
Colleen and her husband, Wes, have served in churches together in Florida, Colorado, and Texas for over 20 years. Wes is president of NEXT Worldwide, a mission organization that mobilizes students and adults to plant churches around the world.
She loves being the mom of her two teenage boys, Sam and Tate.
I love algebra.
And I love to cook.
If you follow the steps in algebra, you get the right answer.
If you follow the recipe for chocolate cake, the result is chocolate cake.
I like when a + b = c.
My childhood was filled with love and a lot of the Bible. We were in church every Sunday, and I soaked in the stories of Joseph, Sarah, and Moses. I wanted to do life correctly like these heroes of the faith. Because of my tendency toward formulaic thinking, my naive childhood observation was that Christianity was a formula that worked. In other words, if I do a and b, I’ll get c as a result.
Two unsound formulas unintentionally developed in my mind as I grew up:
- do right things + believe the Bible = a good life with fewer struggles
- do bad things + disregard the Bible = a difficult life with more struggles
I entered into my late 20’s having followed the rules. I thought I had done right things and believed the Bible, but a + b was not delivering c. Instead I was getting x, an unknown and unwelcome result of difficulty. Oh, the hours I spent trying to figure out what I was not doing right! Was I messing up a or b?
A new formula surfaced:
- a + b = x (unknown)
I did not know what to do with x.
- x came in the form of doctors’ reports that stated we would most likely not be able to have children.
- x was a beloved pastor and friend being killed in a car accident in the prime of his life and ministry.
- x was me being shut out of a relationship that was very dear to me, no matter what I did to try to reconcile.
My formula was not working.
God was gracious to allow my formulaic thinking to fail. When I stopped looking for a formula, I started getting caught up in the wonder of the over-arching story of the Bible.
There are certainly God-given boundaries and commands, and it matters that we obey His commands. His commands are perfect, sure, and righteous, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19). They are for our good, yet they are not formulas that deliver a struggle-free life. The heroes of the faith ultimately flourished not because they did a + b, but because God was faithful in each of their unique stories.
Joseph’s story is different than Sarah’s. Sarah’s story is different than Moses’.
- Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison after he did the right thing. Then after years of being a slave and a prisoner, Joseph was placed over all of Egypt - second only to Pharaoh. And God’s people were preserved through Joseph’s leadership.
- Sarah shouldered the pain of being childless for most of her life, then after menopause God chose her to begin a nation for Himself.
- Moses was slow of speech and hesitant to lead, yet God used him to speak to the most powerful man on earth and lead God’s people out of slavery.
These stories are messy and hard and good. They are good because these heroes of the faith knew God and God is good. Like Joseph and Sarah and Moses, you and I have been invited into the very story of a faithful God who pursues His people.
This is why I teach the Bible. I have to tell His story and invite others into it.
And here is my new formula:
a + b = x (unknown)
God > x