I just finished day 365 of reading chronologically through the Bible as a part of a city wide vision this year to dwell richly in God’s Word. I say this with no pride because I have tried to do this almost every year I have been able to read😅 I started writing this as an Instagram post and realized quickly it would not suffice for how many words I actually had to say on the subject. As I’ve been reflecting on this journey, here are some things that come to mind on why this year I’ve come to the end. These don’t necessarily apply just to reading chronologically, but to opening the Word at all.
1) Guilt is a cruel motivator. I had a chronic habit of starting and failing the whole Bible program every year, and feeling terribly about it because it just seemed like the right thing my perfectionist self should do. And every time I failed, shame twisted itself around my heart. There would be thoughts of “I’ve been a Christian for HOW long? I’ve been attending Christian school for HOW LONG? I have a Bible minor and STILL?” So what is different now? Now it is a delight and a joy for me to read my Bible and I’m eager to do it. It is no chore for me anymore but essential to my every day life. I do it just as I drink water or I go to sleep at night. I need the Bible because I need the God who chose it to be a gift to me. When I became a mother, God really started to uproot my self-sufficiency, and give me freedom from shame and guilt along with it. This is but one example of the many testimonies He has given me in the last four years. I praise Him for it! Please, brothers and sisters, do not read the Bible out of guilt or shame. Read the Bible to be freed from it.
DO NOT say “If she did it, why can’t I?” I want you to look at my life and know for sure if a pregnant mother with three kids, three and under did the whole reading plan start to finish, than surely God can do this for anyone. I also want you to look at my chaotic, almost unchained, hanging by a thread life and realize there MUST be something in there worth prioritizing and sacrificing for. I think Satan would much rather we look to ourselves or at each other than look to our the glorious, gracious, and loving Father.
2) God is worthy. He is worthy of my time, my mind, and my focus, what precious little is left of that. The truth is, in this world, not much else is worthy of those three things. But God FOR SURE is.
3) There will never be enough Bible for me because I will never master God, who is the master of me. So today as I get to the end of this journey, I’m just excited to have more time to dig into 123 John, my next Bible study. The more the more, the less the less. The more I see God in the Word, the more I want to see Him there. And the more I realize how much more I have to learn.
4) The big picture matters. I understand the Bible as a whole more, and that has helped me tremendously. Before I tried to read to get a better idea of the big picture. This time I read with that understanding from the get go. As I’ve studied in various groups over the past few years, we’ve focused together much on the metanarrative of the Bible at the beginning of each individual study. So now reading I have a general understanding of how it fits in the grand story, even if I don’t understand all the details. When I tried to read the Old Testament before, I literally had no clue what was happening or how it connected to Jesus, who brought me to this faith in the first place.
5)Community is key. Dayton Women in the Word was my main source for this community with #dwitw365 initiative. We were simply never meant to do this alone and what a joy to learn about Jesus with other believers! In addition, I’m an extremely relational soul. God created me to learn and grow with others. My favorite was talking over the readings over with my husband and cheering each other on along the way. I often had questions for him when I came to passages that were difficult or that I had never hear of before! If you do this, grab a buddy or ten or twenty!
6) If you are struggling to do it, maybe you should lead it. That’s me 100%. I think God knew I needed a higher level of accountability, so He called me to lead a team of writers through this process to read from start to finish. Sometimes to do the thing, you have to be the initiator. Or a least someone willing to say yes to God’s initiation.
7) Don’t expect every day to be an “ah-ha” lightbulb moment. But do expect change. I know that it is more about letting the Word work on me instead of me working on the Word. I did not have grand revelations every day but it was more than enough to spend time with Jesus. I trust that if He put those words in the Bible, they are for me to read. When we read the Bible to learn about God, we are not trying to tailor every verse to apply to our current life. We are trying to become like the author of the Book, to think and love and give the way He does. But let me tell you, when you read the Word, it is dangerous. He WILL call you to be a doer of the Word and I can’t tell you how many convictions from this year have led to what life looks like today and will impact me and my family for the rest of my days.
One baby up. Have to go. May you dwell richly always, my dear friend.