This year, I could hardly wait for BB to start! When the theme was announced, I was ecstatic. They picked the theme of TRUST! Over the offseason, trust was something that I had been struggling with, and that God had been teaching me in. I couldn’t wait to dive deep into the study, and learn all that God wanted to teach me this year about it!!
When the theme had first been announced, my friends and I were all talking with each other, and suggesting possibilities for what the study passage could be. We were all surprised when it was announced that we would be studying Genesis 37-50: the life of Joseph. No one had guessed that! But as we jumped into the study, we all agreed that Joseph’s life was the perfect example to study of trusting God in all circumstances.
The study was amazing. As I dove into the discovery journal and started memorizing the passages, it amazed me at just how amazing God’s Word is. I think that, the more you study it, the more wonderful to you it becomes. 🙂 The memory passages this year became so precious to me. I loved having the opportunity to memorize them and recite them over and over again. Genesis 50:17-21 was my favorite SS passage this year. It sums up Joseph’s life so beautifully.
“So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
This is after everything that happened to Joseph. After his brothers hated and despised him, after they sold him. After he was a slave, after he was falsely accused and thrown in jail. This was his opportunity to take revenge. But he chose to forgive. And he was able to forgive, because he trusted that God had a plan, and that He would take all this evil, and somehow turn it into good.
The way that Joseph described it is absolutely beautiful. But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. This was what I wanted. I want to be able to trust God so much, that no matter what happens to me, I can look up and be at peace, because I know that God can even take evil, and use it for good. As I went throughout the study, this verse was constantly on my mind.
On the BB community, some of the alumni put on an art competition for the contestants. The instructions were to create a piece of art based on the study passage. As I thought about Genesis 37-50, I thought about just how much happened in that passage, and how much God did through it. I couldn’t decide on just one scene to do, so I wanted to draw a picture based on the whole thing. And it was so much fun to do! It gave me tons of time to think about the study passage while I was drawing it. I also had fun including a lot of symbolism, and specific elements from the study passage. 😉 I think that my favorite part is the rainbow over the pyramids, symbolizing that God’s promises still held true for Joseph, even when he was being taken away as a slave to Egypt. God hadn’t forgotten about him or abandoned him, even then. And it is very evident from the passage that Joseph knew that and clung to it!
In July, we had an unexpected opportunity to put into practice what we had been learning. As we all know, the world has been pretty crazy this year, and has affected so many aspects of our life. And it affected BB too.
We got an email from BBHQ telling us that Nationals as we knew it, wasn’t going to be happening this year. For all of us BB-ers who had been looking forward to Nats all year, this came as a huge hit. Why was God allowing this? Nationals is such a good thing! It’s one of the only times that we are able to fellowship with other BB-ers all year!
None of us understood. We were all so disappointed. But even though we didn’t understand why, we all knew that this had to be for a reason. So we all got on the BB Community, and post after post was encouragement. Encouragement for us to keep our eyes on Christ. To take our focus off the disappointment, and to live out what we were learning. To trust God, even in such disappointment.
It was announced that there would still be a competition, but it would be virtual. The top 15 from each division would move on to compete in an in-person Semi-finals in Texas. So even though there wouldn’t be an in-person Nats, at least we could still study together for a few months! This didn’t help much with the disappointment, because for almost every BB-er, the fellowship is one of the best parts of Nats. But we were really still thankful for the opportunity to study together!
After the announcement had been made, I had a pretty big decision to make. Was I still going to do Nats? I mean, I could still study everything the same way, just without the pressure of trying to have it done by November. I mean, Nats is honestly a pretty big commitment. There is ALOT to study in the SP alone, but then there are also memory passages on top of that! And the Nats season takes place during the school year!
I honestly wasn’t able to make a decision at first. Deep down, I really wanted to do the study, even though there was no way of me making Semis and having the opportunity to get together with any other BB-ers. But I also knew that it would be a huge commitment, and I wasn’t sure what the wisest thing for me to do would be.
And so I began to pray about it. God didn’t make it clear to me right away what He wanted me to do, so I moved thinking about Nats over into the corner of my mind, and shifted my focus back to the SS, which was still at hand. I had already decided one thing for sure: no matter what decision I would eventually make about Nats, it would not affect how I did the SS. I would still put the same amount of time and effort into the Summer Study whether or not I decided to do Nationals if I qualified.
And so I got back to studying. The harder I studied, the more I realized just how much I didn’t do last year. And this amazed me. Yet again, God was showing me that there was no way that I could’ve qualified for Nats last year on my own. HE must’ve guided my hands when I was guessing on the questions in the 2019 QT, because there were SO many things that I didn’t know, and didn’t do that year! God had obviously wanted me at Nats for a reason, and HE worked out everything, so that I would be there. This gave me a greater drive to do my best this year, because this was obviously where God had me right now, and I wanted to do my best FOR HIM!
The whole time that I was studying, I wasn’t sure if I would qualify. Bible Bee wasn’t inviting alternates to compete this year, so if I didn’t make the top 120, I would not be competing this year, no matter what. I was doing my absolute best, but would it be enough? I prayed about it alot. God showed me so strongly last year how He can use anyone to do what it is that He wants done. He kept drawing my mind back to a passage that a friend shared with me right before Nationals last year.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” ~1 Corinthians 1:26-31
My friend shared this with me at the exact perfect time, because, at that time, I was struggling with how God could possibly want to use me at Nats. I had messed up. I had been making the wrong decisions every step of the way during the 2019 BB season. I had barely any of the passages memorized, there were other people who knew them all! Surely there had to be someone else who God could use better than me!
But it’s almost like God kept talking to me through that passage. You don’t have to be the best for Me to use you. If you are doing this, do your best for Me, and I will be able to use you greatly. In your weakness, I am strong.
And so I let go. I did want to do well, I wanted to qualify for Nationals really badly. But I wouldn’t let that be my focus. Never again. And so I decided to let go. God knew my desire, but He also knew what would ultimately be best for me. So I decided to trust Him. I would do my best, and study, not for the purpose of making Nats, but to know God’s Word. After that, it was all in God’s hands. I knew that He would do what was best for me.
And so I studied. I reviewed my passages until I knew them word-perfect. I studied the DJ, and highlighted all of the important facts and concepts. I did Quizlet match competitions with my friends until I knew the Hebrew words inside and out. (I think I won that competition…xD) Cross-references were definitely the hardest part for me. I loved studying them, and seeing how they related to the SP, and connected ideas. But remembering the references was hard. I studied them, and summarized them, so that when I heard the reference, I knew what the passage was talking about. I’m pretty sure that I got through all of the OT ones.
At the end of July, with only about 3 weeks left before the 2020 QT, I left to go be a counselor at a Christian kids’ camp for a week. That was such an incredible time, and God taught me SO MUCH through that experience! It was seriously such a blessing, and I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve in that way.
But if you’ve ever been to a camp, especially as a counselor, you realize that there’s hardly enough time for sleep, never mind study! xD I had brought my SS study things along, hoping to finish learning the NT CRs. But before even the first whole day was over with, I understood why my counselors had been so tired the previous year, when I was a camper! I think for most of my week as a counselor, I was going on about 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night. But I loved every moment of it, and wouldn’t have traded that week for anything! It was an incredible opportunity to put into practice what I had been studying all summer.
I wasn’t expecting this, but the next week I had the opportunity to go back to the camp as a camper for Teen Week. My friends who had served as counselors alongside me the week before were going back, and it was an amazing week of sweet fellowship. I also had the opportunity to serve on the worship team. But even though I got more sleep that week, there definitely wasn’t any time left over for study.
But that was okay. Camp really gave me the opportunity to step back, and focus on living out what I had been learning. That’s definitely one of the most important parts of studying! No matter how much time we spend in God’s Word, if we never live it out and apply it to our daily lives, it’s just a bunch of information that isn’t really doing us good. I’m so thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve as a counselor, and the fellowship, worship, and teaching both weeks was incredible!
I came home, about a week before the QT, with many incredible memories and so many things to praise God for. But I was also tired. Two weeks of camp, especially with one of them being as a counselor, is tiring. Amazing, but tiring. And so for the last week before the big test, I didn’t study anything new. I went back and reviewed. I thought about everything that I had learned. It was just a week to be able to look back on everything that God had taught me, and to look forward to what He was going to do!
There was plenty more that I could have studied and perfected. There was still so much that I hadn’t learned and memorized. But that was okay. I had done my best, and I had learned God’s Word. And now I could rest in Him. I knew that He was going to do something amazing, no matter how the test went, and I was excited to find out what that was.
And so the day came. It came fast! But I was excited. I was on hangouts with a few friends before I went and took the test. And then one of my friends posted his unit 7 quiz, finishing up the series of quizzes he had been making. I had been looking forward to this quiz, and I kind of used it as my “last review”. xD It was really good, and so much fun, even though I failed it! Lol.
So after I finished the quiz, I got back onto hangouts to thank my friend for his quiz. Then he and another friend got on and told me that they were praying for me. That seriously made me smile SO big as I went to go take the test! You both were such a huge blessing to me that day. I’m so thankful for you guys!
And so I went to take my test. I sat down in my bedroom at my desk, and filled out all of the pre-test information. When the “start” button appeared on the page, I stopped for a second.
Well, here I am God. It’s finally here. Help me to do my best, but to do it for You, and You alone. Please let Your will be done. If you want me to do Nationals, help me to qualify. If not, that’s okay. Just help me to do whatever it is that You have planned for me.
And so I pressed start. I didn’t realize it at that moment, but during that prayer, I had asked God to show me what He wanted me to do about Nats. If He wanted me to do Nats, He would let me qualify.
The test was, yet again, way different than I was expecting! I had consistently been scoring 70 or 80% on practice tests. But this seemed easier. I knew so many answers!! There were still a decent amount of questions that I had to guess on, but I was able to narrow those questions down to two or three options and then pick from those. Dear God, you are SO amazing! Why are You so good to me?
I was certain that I hadn’t gotten all of the answers correct, but that was okay. I had studied, and God had helped me to finish the test! He knew how I would rank in the end, and whatever it was, it would be perfect.
After the testing window closed, I was able to discuss some of the questions with my friends. We found one that I had gotten wrong for sure: “Which of these is closest to Moab?” (or something like that xD) The options were: the Mediterranean Sea, The Dead Sea, or the Red Sea. (There was one other option, but I don’t remember what it was. xD) I had no clue, so I selected “The Mediterranean Sea.” Come to find out, the answer was the Dead Sea. Hey, at least I know it now, lol! Turns out, this question was under the category of CR context, which I honestly had no clue we were supposed to study. But it was okay! I had a lot of fun discussing the questions with my friends.
A few days later, the results were to be released….at 8:00 P.M. Waiting was awful. xD I knew that God already knew what I had scored, and that, whatever it was, it was in His perfect plan for me…but I still couldn’t wait to find out! For the last 15 minutes, I remember watching a movie with my family, and chatting with some friends on hangouts. My friend Bethany and I kept sending each other “countdown messages” every time the clock got 1 minute closer, and showed our excitement through overexcessive use of exclamation points and emojis. It was awesome! xD
Finally, the clock turned 8. I was so nervous as I logged onto our BB dashboard. When it finally loaded, my mouth dropped open, and I almost fell out of my seat in surprise. I had ranked 40th.
But how?! Was that even possible? I couldn’t have ranked 40th! There was no way!! And yet there it was, still on the screen. Thank you God!!! I have NO idea why You’re doing this, but thank You!!
After discovering this, I rushed over to the BB community which was exploding with messages. I probably spent over an hour just talking with friends, and congratulating them. It all seemed so surreal. I could hardly even believe what was happening. How was it possible that God allowed me to rank 98 places higher than the previous year? I didn’t deserve this!! What could He possibly have planned next?!
Later that night, once the shock started to wear off a bit, and true realization set in, I realized that God had given me His answer. I had prayed that, if it was His will for me to compete in Nats, that He would let me qualify. And here I was. God had exceeded even my wildest imagination. And so now, it was time for the next step. Nats.
During the SS, I had started to put some of the Early National Passage release to music with my guitar. After we heard the news that there wouldn’t be an in-person Nats, and I wasn’t sure that I would be competing in Nats, I set that aside, and focused on the SS. But now that I was planning to compete again, I took them back out, and re-recorded them on my voice recorder so that I could take them with me wherever I went.
When the Nats SP was announced, I was yet again surprised. I wasn’t expecting it to be John 16-21! But some of my friends had actually guessed it, so that was exciting! And John 16-21 is such an incredible passage. I couldn’t wait to dive into it!!
And so the study began. And it was off to a great start! I got my guitar and recorder, and recorded several more passages, and listened to them on repeat. And after I learned the passage, the song would just play over, and over, and over in my mind. But I loved that! What better thing to have constantly playing in your head than Bible verse songs?!
I forget when exactly it was, but soon we got another sad announcement. Not only was the competition going to be virtual, only the top 33% in each age division would get to do an oral round. I almost understand why they had to do this…it would be A LOT of work to try and schedule 360 video calls so that all of the contestants would be able to do an oral round! But nevertheless, it saddened me. The oral round was my favorite part of the competition itself at Nats last year! I loved getting to recite the passages. But now, for me to get to have an oral round, I would have to score high enough on the CBT to maintain my same ranking from the SS at least, AND that would only be if all 120 contestants in my age division would be competing in Nats, which I already knew was not happening. And so I basically resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t get to do an oral round this year.
So, knowing this, I decided to just keep reviewing the passages that I had already memorized, and instead of memorizing more MPs, to start on John 16-21 instead. I studied John 16 extensively. It was so much fun finding Greek words and cross-references that related to the study passage. I loved going through it and asking myself random questions about the events contained in the chapter. I think that I spent about a week just studying John 16. It is so awesome to be able to just take a passage and study and think about it constantly for a week!
I think that John 16-17 were my favorite chapters from the SP this year. Probably because those were the ones that I studied the most. xD By the time that I had finished studying and memorizing them, there were only about 2 weeks left before the CBT! I spent the last few weeks briefly going over each chapter, and the events that happened in them.
John 16-21 was honestly the perfect passage to pick for the theme of trust. Jesus perfectly trusted in God. He didn’t want to go through all the pain that He endured on the cross, but He knew that it was the only way. And so He did it willingly. Out of complete, perfect love. And John 17 records one of Jesus’s last prayers before His betrayal. He prayed for Himself, that God would be glorified through Him, but most of His prayer was focused on His disciples, and then on us — the future church. Jesus trusted His Father so completely and perfectly, that even in one of His darkest, hardest moments, He was thinking of others. Praying for them. That is the kind of trust that we need to have!
On the last nights before the CBT, my mind flew back across everything that I had learned so far. Everything that I had studied, everything that I had memorized. Through the passages that I studied, it was so incredible to see how that, even in the darkest, most terrible situations, God still had a plan. We can trust Him, because He still has a plan, even if we can’t see it! In the memory passages that I had memorized, the theme of trusting God was also so evident. I didn’t memorize many of the Nats passages at all. Probably only about 15. But the ones that I did memorize, they became so precious to me! They would constantly run through my mind, and I would think about them, almost nonstop sometimes. I would pray through them sometimes, especially the Psalms passages. And in the hardest times, in the moments when I needed them the most, God always brought them back to memory so that He could remind me of the truth that I was forgetting. Even now, those passages come back to me constantly. Everything reminds me of a Scripture passage nowadays, and it’s wonderful!
So in the light of all this, yes, there wasn’t an in-person Nats, and yes, I may not get to recite the passages that I loved so much for a competition, but it was still worth it. Every single second was worth it. I wouldn’t trade the treasures that I gained through the study for anything!
I think that my favorite “Nationals” memory was one pretty similar to last year’s. My friend Lydia was an amazing study buddy for the entire BB season. We would have weekly video calls and study together. She was such a huge and constant encouragement to me during all those BB months! Towards the end of our last study call before the CBT, she asked if she could
pray for me before the test. That honestly meant so much to me. I was trying super hard to hide it, but I was almost crying towards the end. I’m so thankful that God gave me such an incredible study buddy for the whole BB season! Love you, girl!! ❤
So the day had finally come. The CBT was here. I was a little nervous, but honestly, I was more excited than I was nervous! I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to make the top 33%, so to me, this test was just to see how well I had studied the material. I was really curious to see how I would do! Especially since I was in the Senior age division this year (ages 15-18), and I wouldn’t be turning 15 until exactly one week after the CBT! xD
When I clicked start, I was excited to see that I knew all of the questions on the first page! I kept going through, and answering questions, page after page. I knew the answers to so many more than I was expecting to! My most troublesome questions were those about the MPs that I hadn’t memorized. But the test went well!
I got through all of the questions with a few minutes to spare, and was able to go back and double check some of my most troublesome questions. And then it was over.
I found out in the next few days that I indeed, hadn’t made orals. But that was okay. Several of my friends got to move on, and I was so excited for them!! My friends had their oral rounds, and then the semi-finalists were announced. Several of my friends had made Semis!! I couldn’t wait to watch them!
And so life went back to normal for now. But everything that I had learned, it all stayed with me. After about a month, I got to watch my friends compete in both Semis and Finals (once the livestream actually started working, lol!) Once again, it was so awesome getting to watch them compete!
And so my Bible Bee story for this year is over. But in all reality, not really! Everything that I learned, all the verses that I have stored in my heart, the friendships that were strengthened, the new ones that were made, they’re all still here. This year honestly was nothing like I ever would have imagined. But even in the midst of all the craziness God still has a plan. Just like in the life of Joseph, God is somehow taking all of this, and turning it into good. It seems like there were so many disappointments, so many missed opportunities. But could that be because God has something better for us in mind? Even if we can’t see it, He IS working! So we need to learn to trust Him. In every single situation, no matter what. That is what I learned this year.
I also learned the importance of memorization. Ever since I’ve started to make a conscious effort to study and memorize Scripture, my thoughts are constantly going back to the Bible. And when you have the Word in your head, even when you don’t have a Bible with you, you can be thinking about it! And as you think about it and meditate on it, it becomes a part of you. It moves from your head to your heart. And when God’s Word is in your heart, it changes your life.
Yet again, God taught me so much this year! And now I can’t wait to see what He has in store for next year!!!
“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”
“How sweet are Thy Words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.“
“The Law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”