2016 was hard.
There was a time just a few months ago where I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day. 2016 brought significant stress to my family. In the middle of dealing with a hopeless situation, I found myself in an unlikely Bible study. Although the study was designed for new believers, the Bible study leaders at our church were going through it together. It was 8 weeks of homework that covered the basics of Christianity. Every day I would sit and work on my homework. Just me and my Bible. No other voices. Very little commentary.
I was reminded of God’s truth. By reading it with the goal of finding understanding, the Holy Spirit brought me the hope I had been missing. I wasn’t getting that same encouragement from my daily Bible reading plan. It wasn’t the plan’s fault. It was mine. The value I took away from my time in the Word had everything to do with my own frame of mind. I had approached my time spent in the Word for my Bible study class expecting to learn something. Compare that to the expectation I brought to my daily Bible reading plan: get it over with quickly so I could move on with my day.
That tells you everything you need to know about why I’ve failed every yearly Bible reading plan. It’s why, for the first time since I’ve started doing New Year’s resolutions, you will not find “read through the Bible” on my list.
I don’t need the gold star that rewards me for how quickly I can read through the Bible. Although, if we’re honest, it doesn’t take much time each day if we actually wanted to do it. Just 10 minutes a day. It’s completely within reach to do it in a year. My issue is that those daily reading assignments were starting to feel like just another chore like flossing my teeth.
Stephen Altrogge says this in Why You Should Rethink Your Bible Reading Resolution:
“Resolution-minded me quickly turns Bible reading into something mechanical. It becomes about advancing the bookmark an allotted number of pages in my Bible. . .”
“To be sure, it is better to be studying the Bible rather than not studying it.
But it is even better to be loving the Bible rather than merely studying it. And loving it means loving the one who stands behind it. We will love Scripture when we love God, and when we love God we will certainly read Scripture.”
A new approach.
The plan for this year is simple. Instead of a set number of chapters a day, I’m going to spend a certain amount of time a day reading Scripture and journaling and responding. I’m going to use a variation of the SOAP method that I have found helpful. I have no goal for how much material I should cover, but I did find a printable I am using to keep track of what I’ve read.
Have you struggled with your Bible reading? Would it help to take off some pressure and give you permission to read with no expectation for how much you cover during the year?