First, is it a goal I ought to pursue at this point in my life? That may seem a strange question to my Christian friends-- I agree that we should want to read the Bible as much as possible! But when I think about my lack of motivation in this area, I realize that I do a lot of Bible reading, and a lot of reading in general, as part of my work teaching the kids. I love to read, and I do not shirk scripture. The kids and I currently have books going in both the Old and New Testaments, averaging a chapter per day during the schoolweek. In addition, all three kids have personal Bible study books going that we discuss. I have my own Bible study books going as well, although more intermittently.
I am in the scriptures practically every day. Why push myself to personally read every single word in one year? Just so I can say I have done it? That sounds prideful. I do not need one more thing to encourage my self-righteousness. It does just fine by itself, thank you.
There must be another reason.
Reading the Bible through in a year is the precursor to reading the Bible through *every* year. Why would a person do that?
Early this past year, I realized that if I were going to knuckle down and really do this, I was going to have to change my way of reading for this particular task. When I read something important, I look things up. I stop and ponder. I reread. I flip to other portions of the book to see if things connect. These are great things to do, but when the goal is to read through the Bible in a year, concurrent with other Bible studies, it may be better to restrict myself to just reading the text and moving on. Similar to, but not quite the same as, reading a novel for enjoyment. I enjoy reading in depth, getting every last bit of meaning I can out of a text. I am a pretty intense person. Reading a novel for enjoyment is a different kind of enjoyment, more relaxed. Maybe it would be better to get closer to that kind of reading, without completely going into the novel-before-bedtime approach. (Can you tell I am having a hard time explaining this?)
So why just read the text and move on, when it is so rich?
This year I made the most progress ever on my read-the-Bible-in-a-year goal. For instance, I made it all the way to 1 Kings in the Old Testament, whereas before I always fizzled out in Leviticus. It was different this year because many days, when I read, I simply read the words and then went about my day with prayer. The Lord worked in my mind throughout the day, illuminating the truth of a passage that perhaps I didn't even understand at the time I read it. Reading quickly also helped me to see the big picture, so easy to miss when doing in-depth Bible study. When I read in this way, I was able to accomplish the task of reading the daily portion.
This rumination makes the reading of the entire Bible in one year something to be desired, even though we may be doing Bible studies through specific books at the same time.
So-- there is my 'why'. I have spent the last year alternately remembering and forgetting it. When I forget, I slip into my habit of squeezing the last drop of meaning I can possibly find out of my daily Bible reading as I read-- a valuable practice, but not suited to this endeavor, as it makes the daily reading a large chunk of my morning. When I remember the 'why', I am content to leave the pursuit of deeper understanding for later, which causes me to think on it as I have spare moments in my day.
After failing three times, it is clear to see that I am not going to be able to do this the "normal" way. Obviously, I need to retrain myself to relax into my daily Bible reading. This is going to take some time. Besides, I do not want to start over from Genesis when I have gotten almost halfway through the OT this past year! The goal is to read the Bible *through*, as well as read it through in one year. I need to solidify the daily habit of reading 1/365 of it each day, even if I am not beginning at the beginning on January 1.
Here is the how: I will begin where I am in 1 Kings in the OT (and the epistles in the NT) and read my daily portion, praying that I will remember to relax and not be so demanding of this particular reading. That sounds weird, because we ought to be demanding readers, but I really think my analytical tendencies are messing me up where this goal is concerned. I think I just need to read it.
I have my progress listed in my sidebar, because this helps me, and I will continue to add to it as I go. When I get to the end, I will start over. Let's see how that works.
Today* I will spend time reading Acts 1-10 in the NT and Psalms 73-133 in order to line everything up with June 15th (the day I have gotten to in the OT) of my Daily Bible, which is portioned into daily readings of the OT, NT, Psalms and Proverbs. Then I will use the divisions given in that book to portion out my daily readings.
*Okay, I just realized that is a *lot* of reading in one day! I'm still going to attempt it, but if I can't make it through today, I will divvy up the Psalms into tomorrow and Sunday.
Later thought: How much of my neglect of this goal is due to my fear of not understanding? I frequently read things in the Bible that I do not understand. Reading scripture provokes me to wonder, and sometimes I feel threatened by it. I want to know, not wonder! But, as Miss Mason said, "What a barren and dry land should we dwell in if our spirits were narrowed to the limits of that which we can comprehend!" And--
...without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
I Timothy 3:16