I was hoping to share this with you over a month ago, but that day has long come and gone. When I missed the mark on telling you, I figured I would celebrate at the month anniversary, if I made it. This is something I have never accomplished, but always wanted to. I am determined this year not to fail. In fact, I have taken extra steps to ensure my success. I have a partner, my husband, who is willing to come along beside me and take the challenge.
We have set a goal, and are convinced we will make it. In order to keep ourselves completely motivated, each month we are celebrating that we made it that far. Come January 1st of 2013, if we have met our goal, we're planning an overnight trip to KC.
This year, my New Year's Resolution is to read the Bible through in one year. I have attempted this many times in the past and always fell short. I do really good in the beginning but tend to lose steam towards the end. It changes for me into just a challenge to be accomplished, rather than the outcome of changing me. After awhile I start to get too focused on the goal, and not enough focus on the fact that I'm reading God's word for me.
I mentioned this a few months ago. I was talking to God and telling Him how frustrated I get with myself. I've always been all or nothing. I either throw myself completely into something where I'm not going to fail, and I have great success. Or I mess up, and feel all hope is lost, I might as well quit. That's the natural me. I have a very strong sense of commitment in my life. When I say I'll do something, I will do it. Failure is not an option. On the other hand, if I foresee failure in the future, I won't even try.
Every time in the past, the one year Bible turned into one of those pass or fail things. I always found myself going through the motions so I could check off my chapters for the day. This time things have been different. I am still in my mind checking off the chapters, but I've forced myself to highlight at least one verse for the day to meditate on. This way I'm gaining knowledge, but at the same time I'm forcing myself to apply what I've learned.
God's word is so alive! It doesn't matter what happens that day, there is always a verse that I can meditate on. I'm overwhelmed by God's timing. How does He know? I could tell you instance after instance of when God spoke to me through the Bible. It literally is the heart of God. When you are feeling lost and don't know how to cope, you can open the Bible, and find truth for your life now. I amazed how timeless the book can be. It may have been written hundreds of years ago, but it's still very relevant today, to me.
The really fun part about this reading our Bible through in year, my husband and I are having devotions together practically every day. We always ask each other, "Did you read your Bible today?" It's been great having someone hold me accountable. But it's been even more gratifying to have someone to discuss with on a daily basis. We have found so many interesting facts, or nuggets tucked away in the pages of our Bibles.
I believe part of our success can be attributed to the daily reading program we're using. When I was younger and attempted this, it had me simply read from Genesis all the way to Revelation. There are some dry parts of the Bible and I always found once I got to that point, I would give up. I couldn't press on any longer. With this reading chart you will read through the Old Testament one time, and the New Testament along with Psalms two times. Every day we have chapters from the Old Testament, something from Psalms, and some chapters from the New Testament. So if there is ever a dry part, you'll still have something else to hold your attention that you can apply to your life.
I am determined to succeed. Not for the reason of simply checking it off of a to-do list, but a different reason. I have found the older I get, the more and more of God I want and need in my life. I realize I'm imperfect, and I'm guaranteed to make mistakes. I want to know God's heart in a more real and thorough way. What better way to do this, than to read His story.
It's a gift to me. This Christmas, I realized this on a whole new level. It's been said that our earthly father represents to us how our heavenly Father is. Sometimes this can be a scary thing. People are not perfect, but God is. We cannot compare the two in every way. It's not possible. Only God is God, and that's a fact!
A few years ago, my father gave me a book for Christmas. For several years I allowed the book to sit on my shelf. I made sure it stayed in perfect order. The pages were crisp, the bind was flawless. It wasn't dog eared or highlighted. The book was beautiful and it represented my earthly father's love. I picked it up and looked at it a couple times through the years, but I never sat down and read it. I wasn't sure I really needed it. It was one of those self-help books, and those aren't for me... or so I thought at the time.
This year has been a year of tremendous growth for me. I am not the same person I was last year in a multitude of ways. I now read books to change myself not just enjoy myself.
There was a dark day in December that I ended up having a huge fight with my husband. Words were said, and there was no taking them back. We were both quite intense in our stands on an issue, when suddenly, in the heat of the moment, I yelled something at my husband that brought the whole entire thing to a head.
My father has suffered from headaches for over 20 years now. It's very difficult to live with that pain; both on his part, and on the part of his loved ones. Can you imagine what it's like to see someone in horrible pain for 20 years, and not have the key to fix it? It's pure agony. It hurts when it's someone you love so intimately like your father.
It was during that argument with my husband that I broke down. My husband had triggered something in me, and I screamed at him. I faced my father's pain, and I didn't know what to do with it. 20 years of seeing him suffer, and I saw the culprit as my husband in the situation. Our minds are so intricate, and we can never fully understand them. I didn't know what was going on. The real problem was not flesh and blood but evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. (Ephesians 6:12)
As soon as it was said, the fight was over. We both recognized what was going on and saw it for who it was. I was broken and wept for my father. My husband held me as I cried for all the lost time, and I yearned for a new way to love my daddy. I wanted to physically do something for him.
It was then God dropped the book into my lap. He showed me how my father bestowed that gift upon me and I let it collect dust. What kind of love was that? When we are given a gift, it is up to us to use that gift, and show our love back. I couldn't believe I had been so careless. The practical thing that God told me to do was "read his book."
This may have been very simple, but that "gift" was meant to be used to change me. I read the book for my father. It made a world of a difference in me, and I saw my father in a different way. I was able to love him in a new way. Years ago, I wasn't ready to receive it. This year, this time, I was.
The same thing applies to God, our heavenly Father. He has given us this wonderful gift, the Bible, it's words of love to us in a tangible way. We can hold this book lovingly, gazing upon it, letting it hold its original perfect form. Or we can take it out of the box, and actually use it.
For years now, I have kept my Bibles in their boxes. I thought it would protect them and make them last longer. I now believe this is one of those books that shouldn't be "babied". It's meant to be used and opened regularly. I was confused and doing it as a sign of honor, but I think in the whole situation I missed the point. I also hated to write in my Bible. I felt it was tearing the book apart page by page. I'm very serious when it comes to the care of books. I hold them in high regard.
I have since realized that it's okay for my Bible to get a little dirty and used looking. It's a sign of love. It shows God that I'm using His gift. It's a way of loving Him. At the beginning of the year, I threw out all my Bible boxes. It was very symbolic to me. It was as if I was telling my Father, "Look! I love you! I'm going to use your gift!" I also began to highlight verse after verse in them. I see the benefit of quickly finding what you're looking for.
I challenge you to use God's gift daily. You don't have to read through the Bible in a year, but you do have to read it. I've included my Bible reading chart here in case you would like to print it out. The pages are 3x5 inches. I have laminated two pages front to back. I have multiple copies made, one for each Bible that I own. I also have strategically placed my Bibles throughout the house so there is no excuse for not reading. I switch between versions often so I can get different perspectives.
"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires." Hebrews 4:12