At least one time during my teen years, my grandfather challenged all of the grandkids to read the Bible from cover to cover. For encouragement, as a Christmas present, he gave each of us a version of the One Year Bible. Unfortunately, I was quite defiant and didn’t think it was possible for me to complete the task. Actually, I just didn’t want to be challenged in this way, so I tossed aside the book and didn’t give it much thought. By the end of that year though, I felt guilty for ignoring the challenge, and when Christmas rolled around, I hoped that my grandfather had forgotten the charge to his grandkids. While I don’t remember if the subject was ever broached during our annual family Christmas celebration, the thought of balking on the challenge has haunted me for years. As a result, two years ago I decided it was time to finally conquer this feat, so I picked up the gauntlet that my grandfather threw down earlier in life, purchased a One-Year Bible, and made a New Year’s Resolution to read it from cover to cover. The fact that he passed away several years ago didn’t sway me in this decision. I just felt that it was time, and that I needed to do this for myself, if only to prove that it could be done.
Enthusiastically I immersed myself in the task, believing this was something that would be easy to accomplish. Although I sometimes struggled to maintain a regular reading schedule, by the end of the year, I had read the entire Bible. Once finished, I closed the book with a snap. To me that indicated success. But when a friend asked me how I felt about this accomplishment, I had to answer honestly. And I didn’t like my answer. Truthfully, most days I read through the required chapters with the feeling of, “I’ve got to get this done.” Or with the thought,” I am so far behind I will never get this done.” So when I finally reached the end on December 31, I felt relieved and sad at the same time. I was relieved that I did it…finally. But I was also sad because I felt like most days I read just so I could finally say that I had read the Bible through in one year. Yes, I know. That is a sad way to respond towards the greatest book ever written; a book with incredible words of wisdom, encouragement, truth, and instruction for salvation. Within the pages there’s the best guidance for any situation that you could face. And it’s written with such love and devotion.
Feeling like I needed a do over, last year I purchased a one-year chronological Bible. Once again I started out strong, but when I reached the Gospels, I felt like I was getting dizzy because I would read verses in Matthew, and on the same day read the same story in Mark, and then read the same story again in Luke. Everything seemed to be written in triplicate. I struggled so much that I traded in that version for the initial One Year Bible I had purchased the year earlier. To me, reading that version felt familiar; but once again, the attempt to finish the Bible in one year was riddled with an inconsistent reading pattern.
This year I have decided to try again. However, instead of setting a goal to read the entire Bible through in one year, my goal will be distinctly different. This year I want to read with purpose and intent. The purpose: to know God better. The intent: to grow deeper in His knowledge and love. I mean, isn’t that really the reason to read God’s words? To actually get something out of what you’re reading instead of doing something just so you can say you did it? Furthermore, I don’t think there is a rule anywhere indicating that people must read the Bible through in one year. While I do believe that it is important to read the Bible from cover to cover, if it takes 12 months, 18 months, or even longer to get through the entire Bible, I think that’s ok. Personally, I would rather take a longer time to read through the entire Bible and actually get something from what I am reading, than to just read words for the sake of getting it done.
Even though I will be reading my original One-Year Bible, with a different focus, I am expecting a different outcome. This year won’t be about how much reading I accomplish, but will be about how much is accomplished in me through reading God’s word. By December 31, 2015, instead of feeling sadness because I hurried through the Bible, I anticipate feeling inspired to continue reading, learning, and digging deeper into the greatest love story of all time.
What about you? Have you attempted this same goal of reading the Bible from cover to cover in a year, but have fallen short of the goal, or became frustrated because you too were not getting much out of the reading? Maybe it’s time to revise the resolution. Will you take the challenge with me? I’m not asking you to respond personally to this challenge via email; well, unless you want to respond. I am just asking if you will resolve to read God’s word this year with a specific goal in mind.
So here’s the challenge/goal: This year, read the Bible with purpose and intent.
What’s the purpose: To get to know God better.
What’s the intent? So He can impart His knowledge into our lives on a regular basis, and we can grow deeper in His wisdom and love.
Here’s to a New Year immersed in the Words of Christ; the greatest love story of all times!
Featured image is once again compliments of morguefile.com.