For Molly Bailey, there was a moment when she realized that even with all of the Sunday school classes and worship services she had attended, coupled with the long years of loving Jesus, she still did not know the answer to a tough question posed by one of her colleagues in the textbook publishing world. While discussing a book of religion, he asked, “If Jesus was the King of the Jews and the Son of God, why was he persecuted?” In that question, Molly came face to face with the fact that after years of reading, studying and teaching history books, she had never really studied the best-selling book of all time, the Bible. She didn’t know enough of scripture to adequately address this man’s question.
“I was raised in the generation of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, and Father Knows Best. The family resolved their problems in 30 minutes and went to bed happy. ”
About this same time, things were falling apart in her personal life. Molly’s older daughter informed her parents that she was marrying a man that for various reasons, including the fact that he was Jewish, was not their first choice for her. Molly felt that her duty was to respect her daughter’s choice, but Molly’s husband chose not to attend his daughter’s wedding. Molly explains, “I was raised in the generation of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, and Father Knows Best. The family resolved their problems in 30 minutes and went to bed happy. My husband’s decision put a huge divide in my entire family, with several of my family members wanting me to divorce my husband. I could not understand how this could happen, and I kept praying, asking God, ‘why,’ and to heal my family.”
At the intersection of a personal crisis and professional realization, Molly’s friends encouraged her to begin Bible study in earnest. She knew something was missing in her life. She wanted answers to her questions. She wanted to know “why” from God. She began a daily study of the Old Testament through a Bible study class being offered here at University. Through the course of that year, she began to realize how much she hadn’t known, and the Bible became a world of new possibilities. She learned that like the history she had loved to study all of her life, the Bible was full of great plots, chases, treason, warfare, mixed-up family relationships, and unrelenting love: “What a surprise it was to learn that God asked people who stuttered to be the leader of his people and to talk to kings. Others had trouble following directions and even refused to obey God when they were called. I learned that God was always there, even when his people messed up or pulled away from Him.”
“I had been a ‘Martha’ all my life. I had cooked, planned, organized, volunteered, chauffeured, made sure everyone was on time, and tried to make everyone happy."
And as she studied Luke 10 late in that first year, Molly came across a story she had heard before, but it suddenly had new, very clear meaning in her life: “I had been a ‘Martha’ all my life. I had cooked, planned, organized, volunteered, chauffeured, made sure everyone was on time, and tried to make everyone happy. The Lord wanted me to change. He wanted me to be more like Mary. He wanted me at His feet, listening to Him.”
Through study, Molly grew in her faith, learned to pray and to listen to God for His plan for her life. God told her to stay in her marriage. And as she studied the Old Testament, she realized that these stories, the faith described in the pages there, was her Christian heritage. Jesus was a faithful Jew. To study this framework, the requirements and laws that He gave His chosen people, the covenants He made with them that led to the New Covenant in Christ, gave her a deep and abiding appreciation for the Old Testament. This study led to her appreciation of her son-in-law’s heritage and the things they held in common.
“You see, God wanted me to study His Word, to become a better ‘Mary,’ and learn about His son Jesus, a faithful Jew. Through study, I was given tools for insight and understanding."
Her husband had a beautiful and loving relationship with their grandchildren, a gift for their family that would not have been possible if Molly had listened to others rather than God. And as trials continued in her life, including the loss of her mother, her younger daughter’s husband, and her husband, the gift of studying God’s word grounded Molly in peace, in an understanding of the depth of His love for her, in the knowledge that he was with her in both good times and bad: “You see, God wanted me to study His Word, to become a better ‘Mary,’ and learn about His son Jesus, a faithful Jew. Through study, I was given tools for insight and understanding. God had equipped me for all the changes the world would throw my way.”