I’m almost finished with my Bible in a year plan.
I know, I can’t believe it either. And yes, I have my Bible app personalized to be completely hot pink. This should come as no surprise.
The last time I actually completed a one year Bible reading plan was in 2008. Do you know what happened that year? My first child was born.
I remember lying in the hospital bed, a little woozy, while my husband read to me from Revelation so that I could finish my plan before the new year. I was so close to finishing that I didn’t want to give up when I was so close.
And I haven’t been able to complete a one year plan in 12 months since then.
Sometimes I take a slow route through scripture, making it my goal to simply read through the Bible in whatever time frame it might take, whether that’s 14 months or a couple of years. It really just depends on what I want to do that particular year.
When I think back on 2015, with all of its ups and downs, it really surprises me that I was able to complete the plan.
First, there was our trip to Disney World and the half marathon. I remember reading a lot of scripture on the drive to Orlando, knowing it would be hard to read much on vacation.
Then pregnancy and morning sickness that seemed it would never end. But morning sickness did end around 18 weeks or so. I stopped feeling miserable a few weeks before we found out our baby was gone. And that was a season in which my daily reading felt more like food and nourishment than ever before.
The Word really is our food, our fuel for the day. In seasons of ease, it provides us with the water we’ll need for when we’re in the desert.
I don’t think we all need to always read through scripture in a year, so don’t feel guilty if you didn’t do it this year. But I do think it’s valuable to do from time to time. We can see Christ best when we see Him in light of the Old Testament and the New.
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Here are a few reasons why I enjoy reading through the entire Bible on a regular basis, even if I can’t always fit it into a 12 month calendar year:
1. It keeps me reading.
There’s little opportunity for slacking in a one year program. It’s relatively fast paced and can be tricky to catch up. I rarely skip a day in scripture when I’m reading through the Bible, though some days, I may have to settle for only a chapter or two.
I don’t like skipping a day or two of Bible reading, but it has nothing to do with legalism and everything to do with love.
God doesn’t love me more or less based on how much of the Bible I read or don’t read. But my love for Him grows when I’m reading His Word. And when I don’t? I find that one day turns into two, which turns into three. My love for sin grows stronger while my love for the Lord weakens. Staying in the Word helps me to stay focused on Christ.
2. I always know what I’m reading next.
One of the easiest ways to stop reading the Bible is simply to not know what you’re reading next. I find that if I always have a plan, there’s no pausing in between books to decide where to go next. I just automatically move on.
3. The big picture is important.
I studied Hebrews in-depth with women from my church this fall. I loved the in-depth study provided with Hoping for Something Better. But I also loved that it was easier to understand Hebrews because I was simultaneously reading through the Old Testament in my own personal Bible reading time. If I go a year or two without reading the Old Testament, I get a little rusty it.
The big picture of scripture is incredibly important. I can appreciate Christ’s sacrifice all the more in light of the insufficiencies of the Old Testament system.
4. It helps me prioritize my day.
We can easily spend 20 minutes of our day on social media. We can spend 20 minutes watching TV. And we can spend 20 minutes reading a novel or a great non-fiction work. But we feel too busy to read 20 minutes of scripture. It’s those times when we’re too busy that we actually need scripture the most.
Making it Work
This year, I used the YouVersion App to help me keep up with the M’Cheyne reading plan that our pastors suggested for 2015. I wasn’t a huge fan of using just the app instead of my actual Bible, but the plan is pretty scattered and it was the easiest way to keep up with it. I also liked that I could listen to some portions of scripture through the app.
In the past, I’ve also used the One Year Bible to help me out. The separate Bible made it easier for me to simply open up and read the day’s scriptures all in one place. The downside of both the app and the separate Bible is that I don’t get the benefit of reading in my own Bible. I love reading in my own Bible because it helps me find scripture easier later, when I need it.
Visual learners like myself understand how this works. I may not remember exactly where a verse is in Ephesians, but I can tell you it’s probably in the 3rd or 4th chapter, on the third page of Ephesians in my Bible.
I’ve also printed out a reading program, like the Discipleship Journal reading plan, one of my favorites. By keeping it tucked into my Bible, I can pull it out and check off the books as I read them.
A simpler way to read through scripture in my own time is to just open up and read. When I take this approach, I often start in Genesis and then alternate with reading an Old Testament book followed by a New Testament book. I work my way through the Bible in this manner, sometimes taking a year and a half and sometimes taking longer.
These are just a few ways that I make it work, but honestly, I don’t do it every year or in every season.
If you’re sitting there, thinking of how many times you got up to nurse a baby, wondering how in the world you could come out of the fog to read this much scripture in a day, take heart. I’ve been in that season and it’s tricky to even read a chapter a day sometimes. When you have a few children at home, devotional time will be far from perfect, but God will us it to work in us anyway.
And that’s really the goal anyway. My goal is heart change, not a check list.
What’s your plan for reading scripture in the new year? Share your suggestions. I have less than a day to figure out my plan for 2016!