I’m probably a bit late to the party, but I’ve been seeing many people posting about their Bible Reading Plans and their desire to read through the Bible in a year. I’ve loosely stuck to these plans for several years, and intend to do the same this year. Reading through the Bible is a tremendous blessing to anyone who takes the time to do so…If you don’t believe me, just try it.
I set out this year with the intention to use a chronological plan, which basically means that I plan to read through the Bible chronologically, in the order that the events of the Bible, and the order in which the books were written. I’ve not done this before, so I’m excited to read through the Bible in this way…
A funny thing happened though as I began this new endeavor. As I began going through Genesis 1 I caught myself wanting to really slow down and examine each verse…I began underlining and scribbling notes(as I often do when prepping for teaching)…The thought hit me how pleasurable this was. Honestly my heart was aflame in worship as I examined this passage, flipped through pages and cross referenced and took in the totality of the revelation of God as I saw once again how interrelated all of Scripture is. I was driven to praise as I saw Christ so prevalent in my studies. Keep in mind that an hour in and I’m still hanging out in Genesis 1 & 2.
I then began to stress. I know, this is silly. But I was thinking, “If I intend to keep up with my reading plan, I can’t read the Bible like this. It will take me forever!”
Then it dawned on me…Perhaps this is one of the shortcomings of our yearly reading plans. Often we sit down with the plan, and we rush to get through it just so we can check it off for the day. I know I’ve done this myself. If we get behind, we cram a few days in together so as not to fall behind. I’ve done this as well, and then after reading, have no clue what I’ve just read.
Along these same lines, I’ve noticed when talking about these yearly Bible Reading Plans, so many people or plans say things like, “If you just read 3 chapters a day…” or “If you just give 10 minutes of your day…then you can read through the Bible in a year.” I don’t know, call me a fuddy-duddy, or maybe I’m some sort of legalist…but it just seems wrong to approach the Scriptures in this way…we could just as easily say, “The minimum number of minutes or chapters you HAVE to read is this…then congratulations you don’t HAVE to do anymore and you can get on with doing the stuff you REALLY want to do!”
It is a joy to read the Scriptures. It is our privilege, not simply a duty or obligation we must fulfill. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we say things like this. We are trying to exhibit how easy it is to read through the Scriptures. I suppose this is a good thing…But something about it just sits wrong with me. But, I guess the big point is to simply get people reading, so let me not dwell here.
All of this being said…
Let me be clear, reading the Bible in any way is better than not reading it at all. The Word of God has a way of grabbing you and penetrating your heart, even when you might not be giving 100 percent. I’ve found this to be true in my own study. So, even if just for a few moments, even if it’s half-hearted, my conviction is its better to read than not to read. If we are reading, at least we are giving God the opportunity to capture our hearts through his Word. So, if you’ve found a bible study/reading method that works for you…by all means. Keep doing it. But never be afraid to try another way…Be open to going deeper. Don’t get so caught up in your “reading plan” that you never go deeper into the Scriptures. Don’t get so caught up keeping up with your plan that you never actually seek the God who is the point of it all.
Not that you asked, but what will I be doing this year?
1. I’m going to continue with this Chronological plan. I’m going to attempt to keep up with the daily readings. There is something about reading through large chunks of Scripture at a time that does indeed help you to grasp the totality of what the author intends us to grasp.
2. I’m also going to continue slowly and methodically going through the Bible verse by verse, cross referencing, and with commentaries and other reference material by my side. I’m going to approach whatever I’m reading as if I were teaching it. This type of study also brings me much joy, and you can’t substitute the knowledge you gain through this type of study. (I plan to do this in addition to whatever study I will be doing as part of my responsibilities teaching/preaching.) I’m not sure how long this will take me…But like all of us should, I plan a lifetime of disciplined Bible Study.
So, who has time for all of this?
I’m really not a legalist. And I know that we are all busy. Believe me, I know. I have a wife and six kids. I have a job, attend seminary, plus I serve my local church. I also do pulpit supply and preach in various churches whenever I am called upon. So believe me, I get it. But I’ve found that we are able to make time for the things that we want to make time for. Many of us spend hours watching t.v., surfing the web, and playing on social media. I do this too. But I hope to do this less and I hope to discipline myself to spend more time praying and studying…And maybe even write more about what I’m seeing.
So pray for me as I pray for you…May we all spend 2015 going deeper into the things of God.