I have a confession to make. Up until about six months ago, I hadn’t read my Bible on a regular basis in years. Good Christians aren’t really supposed to say that out loud, but here I am. In my defense, I had a good excuse. Two of them, to be exact.
Pretty good excuses, huh?
There are seasons of life where the regular reading of scripture is easy to carve out time for. Some people read the Bible daily, accompanied by concordances and commentaries and parallel Bibles and daily devotionals. There are people who follow plans for how to read through the New Testament in a year or the entire Bible in a year. There are plans you can print off online, charts you can pin on Pinterest, apps you can follow on your phone, basically endless possibilities to help you in your endeavor to be a better Bible reader.
I think plans and charts and graphs and goals are great. I really do. I’m a first-born (sort of), type-A, left-brained person. I live and die by charts and schedules and routines and lists and checklists. My brain eats that stuff up like candy. So it would make sense that every year I set out to follow a Bible-reading plan. And every year I make it about a month before I lose interest or get too far behind and I give up. I’ve been in a season the past six years where sleep has been a precious, often-lost commodity, and I’ve had many days where I’ve wondered how I would even fit a shower into my schedule, much less four chapters of Deuteronomy. So for six-and-a-half years sleep won out, and my Bible collected dust.
But seasons change, and life has a way of renewing itself. After having my Bible stolen recently, I finally bought a new one late in the summer and became eager to read the story inside again. There’s something inviting about fresh, clean pages and unbent book binds, yes? So being a morning person, I decided to discipline myself to get up every morning before anyone else woke up, make myself a cup of coffee, and read my new Bible. But this time I chose a different method. I didn’t use a plan. I didn’t follow a checklist. I didn’t set a goal. I opened the Bible and I read for the sake of reading. And do you know what happened? I fell in love with the story again. I found myself not only reading the Word, but getting lost in it. I didn’t open the Bible to read the next chapter on my checklist; but rather, I opened it to wherever my heart was at that particular time. I have let the Spirit guide where I choose to read, and it has become the sweetest time in my day. I discovered that I was a nicer, gentler mama most days too, and have loved having little bitties with tousled hair and sleepy eyes come curl up next to me early in the morning as I read.
I’ve loved feeling the joy in Paul’s words as he reminds me of the Lord’s matchless grace and gentleness. I’ve fallen in love with Jesus again and again as I read about His incomparable mercy and love. I’ve been in awe of the mighty power of a God who slays giants and tears down great city walls with the sound of a trumpet blast and who awes the unbelievers by setting soaking-wet sacrifices ablaze. Sally Lloyd-Jones describes it well:
“The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!” ~The Jesus Storybook Bible
As this new year begins I do want to encourage you, especially mamas with littles, to find a time to read the scriptures regularly, if you’re not already doing so. But recognize that it’s okay to do it without an agenda. Maybe you’re not a morning person like I am. That’s okay. Carve out some time in the evening after the kids go to bed. Put on a video in the middle of the afternoon and go hide in your bedroom. Find a quiet place during your lunch break at work. Or there’s always old faithful (the bathroom)!
Pick up your Bible and start reading anywhere you like. Start with the Gospels. Start with the Psalms. Start with the Epistles. Start at the beginning. (I would not suggest starting with Leviticus, but that’s just me.) 😉 Read a chapter. Read half a chapter. Read for five minutes. Read until the video is over. Read until the kids wake up. Read until you don’t want to read anymore. And tomorrow, if you need to stay in bed longer or go to bed earlier, it’s okay. Do it. Start back again the next day.
I hear a lot of people talk about the discipline of scripture reading and how hard it is, and I’ve been that person who has tried to make the discipline itself my goal. But I’ve come to learn that it’s okay to not read the Bible in order to become more scholarly. It’s okay to not read the Bible in a year just to say you’ve done it. It’s okay to not do a Beth Moore study. Sometimes it’s okay to read the scriptures simply for the sake of reading the scriptures. And maybe I’m oversimplifying something that everyone else already knows and has figured out. But maybe there are some others of you out there who get bogged down in all of the stuff of life that’s supposed to make us a better person, especially at the beginning of a new year, and you create unattainable goals and set yourself up for failure, just like I do.
If that sounds like you, then I just want to offer you encouragement today. If you want to be better about reading your Bible this year, work at it in your own way until you find a time and place that works for you. And if it becomes too hard, don’t let the voices of condemnation ring out in your head. Silence them with the knowledge of God’s grace, and try again another time. The Lord knows you’re weary, and it’s okay to rest. Just don’t stay in that place forever. And when you do find that time and place that becomes a sacred treasure, guard it and protect it and enjoy it. Get lost in the great Love Story. But don’t read the scriptures this year to meet a measurable goal. Read the scriptures simply to meet your Savior. And be blessed.