Consistently ranking high on the list of New Year’s Resolutions for many people is one thing that not all that many of us ever actually complete.
Read the Bible Through
Ever since I was a little one in Sunday School and sang the familiar song, I’ve loved the Bible. The B-i-b-l-e, yes, that’s the book for me.
Thanks to those terrific teachers, we in the childrens’ ministry of the Baptist church learned our way around this magnificent book very early in our lives. I can rattle off all 66 books of the Bible like nobody’s business, all because we learned to list them by song
Today, at this stage of the proverbial game, I’ve heard thousands of sermons, participated in years of small group studies and probably read every page of the Bible many times over.
However, up until now, I had never read it from start to finish in one year’s time.
For believers, the Bible serves as a guide for how to live, a source of comfort in difficult days, and a beacon of hope for the future. But it’s also a written record of the very words of Almighty God, which makes it holy and very set apart from any other printed book.
So why have I not read the whole thing every single year, for Pete(r)’s sake?
It’s Inspired and God-Breathed
We who profess faith in the God of the Bible are lovers and defenders of every dot and tittle between its two covers. However, when it comes to sitting down and reading it, start to finish, we struggle.
To do it that way, we have to get through chapters of genealogies, chronicles of long-ago kings, and parts that are hard to understand. It’s just plain easier to focus on the New Testament or to study the Bible by topic, and to hear preaching from someone who is gifted at helping us apply it.
But it’s inspired and God-breathed, which makes it way worth whatever effort it takes to know it through and through.
We All Want To
Don’t get me wrong. Lots and lots of mature Christians have read the Bible through, and maybe even have a great discipline for doing it year after year after year.
Others of us have had a lot of want-to without a lot of get-through.
We start reading about the six days of creation in Genesis 1 and then quit powering through just after God gives Noah the dimensions of the ark in chapter 6.
Let’s face it. To read the Bible through takes a certain measure of plain ol’ spiritual discipline, and Lord knows we can be a little lacking in that department.
Sometimes it Takes a Challenge
Last fall, Mike and I met up with friends at a beautiful hill country spot to have lunch and reconnect.
These are good friends, and we’ve known each other as such for many years. It all started on a camping trip in Colorado before any of us had graduated from college.
Since then, we’ve moved, raise kids and rejoiced together over the cutest grandkids we never could have imagined back when we pitched our tents side by side.
Basically, we’re big buds, and if there’s any subject to discuss, we had likely already covered it with these friends before we dined out under a big Texas oak tree last November.
But there was one thing we’d never talked about.
“Hey, why don’t we all four read the Bible through in 2018?” challenged Sally.
We Couldn’t Say No
What reason could we possibly have to say no to that?
For one thing, we’re empty nesters with the time to do it. For another, reading the whole Bible in a year’s time was something we’d never done individually, much less as a couple. And for crying out loud, we already should have.
“Great. We’re in,” we said. “Let’s do it.”
It Wasn’t Easy
At this point in the story, I would love to tell you that we lit a candle in the middle of the breakfast table every morning and drank coffee together while we reverently flipped some well-worn parchment pages.
What really happened was more like this.
We started by reading out loud at lunch, then getting all kinds of sidetracked. “Wow, I don’t remember that part,” one of us would say. That led to Google searches for sermons on the subject and a lot of other whatnot that greatly slowed down our reading progress.
Next came a huge job change that required a lot of our together-time to be spent in prayer and strategy for the next rung on life’s Over Fifty ladder.
We Finally Did It
Finally, about mid-year, we realized we were never going to make it if we kept trying to read every word together, so we shifted gears.
We tracked our progress on our phones, and Mike started listening to an audio version from an app that allowed him to follow along as the digital pages scrolled through, while I read in a the more traditional way, using my index finger to keep my place.
Then we initiated mornings by the pool, and that helped both of us strike a better reading routine. Yet, still, we had lost ground early in the year, which left us with some heavy catching up to do.
We Crossed the Finish Line
On November 27, 2018, we finished.
In my mind, it felt more like we had both just run our first marathon, crossing the finish line in a blaze of glory, angels cheering us from the crowded throng of onlookers.
In reality, we were both munching on a package of nuts, seated in the cushy chairs of a Vonlane bus trip down I-35. Instead of receiving heavenly high-fives, we just fist-pumped each other across the arm rest.
In exactly 365 days, we had read all 66 books of the Bible, Old Testament and New, chronologically through, when we simultaneously read those last wonderful words:
Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
So Many Benefits
Aside from the sheer thrill that comes with rising to a challenge and completing a goal, there were numerous other benefits to reading the Bible in a year.
We learned new things, we saw familiar passages with a new perspective, and we applied instruction to our lives in new ways. Not only that, but our relationship with God became even sweeter and deeper as we engaged our concentrated hearts with his incredible words.
In addition to that, we had enjoyed this spiritual challenge together, husband and wife, with another couple we dearly love.
From the wealthiest among us to the most destitute on the streets, we are a people who search for our purpose, and the God who created us has a plan for our future. But he typically doesn’t drop it from the sky.
God’s plans and God’s ways are clearly written in his word.
With the same intensity that he judged the rebellion of his people in the Old Testament, God lovingly sent his son Jesus to save us from our sins. That was his plan from the very beginning, for you and for me.
Truly, the Bible records a story like no other, written by a God who has no equal.
Top Ten Experience
Reading the Bible through in one year was one of my top ten experiences of 2018, but quite possibly the greatest spiritual adventure of my entire adult life.
And, yes, oh yes. Now, more than ever, the B-i-b-l-e is still the book for me.
Passing on The Challenge
If you’re like me, and it takes a challenge, consider this one from me to you. If you’ve read this post and are thinking about making this the year you read the Bible through, go for it.
I’ll cheer you from the sidelines and give you a big fist pump when you’re done.
Your devoted encourager,
PS: Here are links to my other Top 10 Experiences of 2018.