I was so excited when it came! A gift to myself – it’s truly beautiful. I couldn’t wait to take it out of the wrapper and finger the crisp pages of my new Bible. Here I am – “way old” as my grandson describes me – and this was the first time I had picked out my own Bible. So really, I was very excited when it finally came.
I looked at the beautiful cover and the perfect pages and wide margins in it – just calling me to invest in the treasures that are there.
But I have only written in it twice since then. And I’ve only read it to find other things – not to simply spend time with my Maker.
It’s January 10th of the New Year, which isn’t very many days into the New Year… But I’ve already failed at my reading plan.
I’ve been reading blog posts about how important a Bible reading plan is – how God sovereignly works through your reading plan and why I should keep at it even when I don’t want to keep at it… But there is this heavy weight of guilt and obligation that can clang through the lines of those blog posts, isn’t there?
So I’m not here to tell you that you should have a plan to read your Bible.
I’m here to give you reasons that you’ll want to read have one.
- Your Bible is a love-letter from your Dad. I first realized this when I was about 40 years old. I really wish I had realized this earlier in my life. It revolutionized how I looked at the pages of Scripture. Perhaps this realization hit me hard because the failings of my own dad, but I’ve talked to people who have had great dads and they are moved by this as well. The Almighty Creator of the Universe has cared enough about you to tell you about himself and why you are here. Don’t you want to hear him tell your story?
- There is an understandable story line… if you know the story. When I’m teaching students how to articulate and defend their faith, I start the year off with this news: The overarching story of the Bible is this – that God has created and redeemed a people to Himself. They rarely have a clue what I’m talking about in September. I have to repeat this many times through the year and have to point to it again and again through our lessons, but usually around January or so, some of them start to get it. “Wait, Mrs. Chapman – this is what you meant!” Yes, child, now you see. God didn’t need anything or any one. He was enjoying sweet and perfect fellowship already. But He was so full and overflowing with love and generosity that he chose to create mankind so that we could participate in the beautiful communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, too. And He has woven the story in such a way that He has permanently secured the safety of his beloved children by including sin and rescue and all-powerful safe-keeping from all that would work against us. Everything in Scripture is an explanation of how and why and who and when and where God has gone about creating and redeeming His people for His glory and for our good.
- We can know this good Father – intimately. When my circumstances are hard I feel far away from God. I know that’s pretty normal – but I also know that it’s not good. I need to be reminded that I am loved. I want to know that there is a purpose in all of this harsh reality and that I am not being subject to the whims of “fate.” I know that isn’t true, but I have to struggle hard not to believe it. When I separate myself from my maker, the silence that I allow to creep in is menacing. Once it becomes menacing, it’s not long before it becomes crushing. But this is something I am doing to myself! All I have to do is browse the Psalms to see that David ran to God when his heart was broken, not away from Him. I want my heart to stop aching. The only way I have found for that to happen is being reminded of the infinitely good purposes of God. Joseph, Job, David, Isaiah, and so many more remind me that my circumstances and gut-wrenching sadnesses are not unique to me and are nothing new. God has seen all of this before. He doesn’t just get His people through the horrors that sin produces, battered and scarred to go on another day. He uses every shred of every second for good purposes that far, far outweigh their cost. One day, we will say, “Huh? What sadness? Oh, yeah – I’d completely forgotten about that!” It will be like the trash in the dump – nothing to even consider. But I can’t remember that if I’m not being reminded of who God is. I need to know Him.
- He prepares us for what lies ahead. I like the verses that talk about “living in peace with all men” and all things being done “decently and in order.” I mean – I like the thrill of adventure and all, as long as it’s all fun and good. But my life just isn’t like that. So try as I may to have things run smoothly, they don’t. They get screwed up and wonky, and downright nasty and ugly. Unforeseen circumstances, unmet expectations, unrealistic notions, and hey, let’s just call a spade a spade – selfishness, greed, angry demands, and short tempers can mess with the whole “decently and in order” thing… often before 7:30am! How can we live in peace with all men if we can’t even live in peace in our own minds?! I need instructions. Carefully worded, re-readable, understandable instructions for how to handle the things I know will come along. So do you. Thankfully, God has been kind in this regard. There are lots of places to start but may I suggest First and Second Corinthians? Those people were messed up…. like us.
- Like begets like. That’s a quaint way of saying, once you start it’s easier to keep going. Reading and understanding produce more reading and understanding. If you want to know God better, understand how to live a life that honors him better, and not struggle with the same old garbage that keeps dogging you year after year – there is one simple solution. Read God’s instruction manual and pray for understanding. He will help you keep reading and increase your understanding again and again. When I was about 21 or 22 years old I realized that I wasn’t being very purposeful in how I read the Bible. I started out plowing through Genesis but the brakes of overwhelming confusion seized up when I hit Leviticus. I remember thinking, “WHAT is with all these rules and all of this blood?!?” Let’s just say it didn’t go well after that. After a long hiatus, I determined I could spare 10 minutes per day. That was my limit or I knew I would get frustrated and just quit again. But soon, my 10-minutes per day of gritted-teeth determination melted into a desire to know and understand. It’s a little amusing to me now that reading the Bible 10 minutes a day seemed like such a chore – but the memory of it is clear enough to have compassion for anyone who is struggling. Give yourself the gift of 10 minutes a day. You’ll soon be craving more.
- It’s a balm for our souls. I’ve hinted at this above, but I don’t want anyone to miss the point. Reading Scripture helps! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being selfish in a way that looks to God to help! Reading the Bible gives me perspective on the details that sometimes try to swallow me up. It lifts my gaze to One who is higher than I. It reminds me who I am and Whose I am. Reading my love letter from my Dad reminds me that I have one, and that He’s a good, good father. He reminds me that I can run to Him and cry or even rail and that he will always be there and still love me. Reading my Bible helps me live better – love better. And probably, most importantly, keeps me worshipping the One who loves me most.
So, don’t feel guilted into developing the discipline of daily reading. Start again today because you’re shamelessly looking for God to bless you. Look forward to all the benefits and fulfilled promises of knowing and serving the God who made you and takes care of you.
Below are some sites for plans that are really helpful. Some love the 1-year plans – I don’t. I like the 3- or 5- year plans. I’m a slow reader and I like the freedom of being able to park somewhere for a while if I want to. But if I have no plan I can get lazy and have trouble getting “un” parked. Hopefully, these will help you, too.
Lots of plans to choose from here
Design your own plan here
Get your kids in on the reading here
How do you keep yourself on track? Was this post helpful to you? Leave a comment below!