Being a Christian for almost all my life, I admit that I haven’t really read the entire Bible. With that in my mind, every New Year, I set out to read the whole thing. I believe aiming to read the whole Bible is a noble goal that all Christians should strive to accomplish (I don’t think this is being a legalistic Pharisee and this is a separate topic for another post in the future)
I would prepare myself by printing out a yearly reading plan of the Bible. And without a doubt, I fail at achieving my New Year’s resolution goal. The furthest I have kept up with the year plan was until the month of May. When it reaches to the book of Leviticus and Numbers, and the description of how the Tent of Meeting should be made, my will to finish my New Year’s resolution slowly crumbles and vanishes. It ends up with me completely neglecting the Old Testament and keeping up with the New Testament.
While there aren’t easy solutions to this, I hope that what I have decided to do this year can bring some help to those who are struggling in a similar way.
1. Remember the purpose
As with any other goal, you can’t succeed without knowing what the purpose is. Why do you set aside time to work out every day? It might be for the purpose of looking fit or trying to be healthy. If you don’t understand why you are working out in the first place, it’s only a matter of time before you slack off and start using your unaffordable cheat days. You have to remember the purpose of your resolution. It is the same with reading the Bible.
As you start to enter the dry (is there such thing?) passages of the Bible, you will have to remember your goal. The purpose of reading the Bible is to encounter the living God. Knowing this, I set to read the Bible so that, by encountering the living God through the Word, I may be transformed. The Psalmist points us this way – look what he says from the earlier verse: “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments” (119:10). There is a direct correlation between seeking God, and not wandering from His commandments, or His Word. To seek God with your heart is to keep God’s Word close to your heart. And as we seek God and behold His beauty and glory, we are slowly but surely transformed.
You shouldn’t read for the sake of just reading. Steve Lawson famously said, “Do you want to hear an audible voice of God? Read your Bible out loud” That’s so true. The words of God echo through every word and page of the Bible and you are able to encounter Him when you set and aim to read the Bible every day.
2. Don’t stick to the plan too much
I’m a planner guy. But when it comes to reading the Bible, I tend to not stick to my reading plan. Things happen. There will be days where you are pressed for time and won’t be able to finish your daily reading. You get sick, or you’re pressed due to work or school. And that’s okay. Your ultimate goal is not to finish a plan but to encounter a living God through His Word. There are some days when I don’t follow the plan completely because I just didn’t have enough time to finish. There are some days when I’m just stuck on one passage and choose to meditate on it throughout the day. The plan is meant to serve you as a guide. It’s not a law that dictates you.
It can work in an opposite way too! You’ll have many days where you have more time than usual. I use those days make up for the readings that I haven’t done from previous days, or to get ahead of the plan. If you have an extra 10-15 minutes to spare, then, by all means, go ahead and read more! For me, I know I’m going to fall behind when I get sick throughout the year so I try to read more whenever I have extra time.
3. Keep on reading
Lastly, consistency is the key. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to read. Find a time that works for you. Personally, reading at night, right before I go to sleep, seemed to work better because I wasn’t feeling rushed and my brain just worked better at night. Whatever time you set to read, make sure you stay consistent.
Keep reading even when you don’t feel like reading – Your emotions will be against you on certain days so fight it. When you feel exhausted, or when you feel sinful after falling into temptations, the last thing you will want to do is to pick up the Bible and read. Don’t let those false emotions get to you. At that very moment, the best thing you could do is to pick up your Bible and be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His people.
Keep reading even though you’re behind – You may be like me and feel that there’s no point in catching up, and you’ll be tempted to wait until next year to start (seriously, I’ve done that). But don’t let that set you back even more. You are far better off being behind a couple of days or weeks than to not read at all.
Keep on reading even though you don’t know what you’re reading – You will come across verses, passages, or books that you have no idea what they mean, or how they might apply to you. I know how you feel; some of the books in the Old Testament aren’t really that exciting. Many times, I have no idea what I’m reading. But, keep on reading. Don’t let your confusion hinder your motivation.
It’ll be helpful to think of your daily reading as a meal. I can’t list everything I ate last week. But I do know the meals that I had last week were what kept me alive until today. God uses confusing and forgettable verses and passages, just as much as John 3:16 or Romans 8:38-39, to help you grow.
Reading the Bible is hard work – if you wait for it to become easy, you’ll never start reading. There will be many days when you won’t want to read the Bible, but instead keep scrolling down your Facebook feed. But, remember the purpose of your resolution. The real purpose of why you should keep reading. And I assure you, when you do finish, you will not look back and tell yourself that you have wasted your time.
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