I’ve heard from a few who are reading through the Bible in a year. Or they were. Things piled up. Yes, sometimes we get behind on our reading and it becomes a source of stress. Here are a couple of hacks for staying on track or getting back on track.
- The first is key. Don’t quit. Maybe you are a month behind. Maybe you haven’t made it out of Genesis yet. No worries. This is your private devotional journey. Don’t alter your goal. Instead…
- Alter time. One great approach, if you’ve gotten behind, is to call for a new New Year’s Day. Maybe you stayed with it for ten days before starting to slip. If you want to read this same amount daily (see the next point on this), then count back ten days from today and call that New Year’s Day. You will still read through the Bible in a year; you just stretched the year. That’s fine. It’s the reading that counts. Adjust the goal posts all you want, just keep holding on to that football.
- Taper back. Maybe you need a two-year plan instead of a one-year plan. Adjust the amount of reading you want to do in a day.
- Don’t despair or compare. You’re not in a race with anyone else. You should not feel ashamed that you fell behind in your Bible reading. This is kind of silly, right? Don’t make your devotions about self-discipline. Make them about “discoveries and discussions.” We discover the meaning for a day in God. We discuss with our spirit what His Word tells us and then we discuss it with Him through our prayers and our responses to His Grace throughout the day.
- If you can, another idea is to have a marathon Bible reading day or half-day. I can do this sometimes. Some people can’t at all. I totally get this. I know some single Christians who schedule “God days.” What a luxury! This, they tell me, is part of the plus-side of being single. They love it so much. They go somewhere scenic and catch up on their study and devotions. It’s just them and God.
- Take advantage of all the audio resources we now have. Maybe it’s best for you to listen to the Scriptures in the car during your daily commute. This is not cheating. This is your life and this is what will work for you in terms of connecting with God through His Word. So, get at it with my blessing! Also, I sometimes like to have the Scriptures read to me by a recording while I read along. This is especially helpful when my mind is racing all over the place, which is often. 🙂
- Enjoy God. Scripture study and devotions are like eating. We eat more of what we like. Maybe it’s just the New Testament this year. Then do that. Maybe you like Psalms and John and that’s it so far. Then start with those two books. Keep in mind that if you are bogging down then FITTING is the word, not QUITTING.
If you’ve come up with some other hacks yourself that have helped you stay the course, drop a note here about them for the rest of us. God bless!
“It is our heaven to lay many weights and burdens upon Christ. Let him find much employment for his calling with you; for he is a such a Friend as delighteth to be burdened with suits and employments; and the more homely ye be with him, the more welcome.”
Samuel Rutherford, “The Loveliness of Christ”
There’s a fruitless fig tree in the reading a few days back (Matthew 21:18-22) for those reading through the Bible in a year via the plan found in Our Daily Bread. Jesus disdains this tree’s fruitlessness. It is the opposite of who He is. You will never go to His tree, the Cross, and fail to find fruit that restores your soul to life. This fruit is displayed like a summer night sky filled with stars. When you reach for it, a hand reaches back for yours. A voice like no other says, “I will never leave you. Never.” This is your friend. This universe creator turned carpenter laid down his life for you on purpose. He knew who you were before you were born. He knew what He was doing for you before you ever heard His Name. This is your friend. You do not have another friend like Him. This friend wants you to find fruit in Him every time you seek it. This friend wants your problems, your pain, your failure, your sin. Hand it to Him. He leans into every part of you that you try to hide even from yourself. He wants to clean things up and clean things out. He knows how you speak to and treat the ones you say you love. He wants those dead parts of your life and heart; that’s what He’s come to work with and change. Like an artist seeking a blank canvas or a sculptor a rough stone, Jesus seeks your broken life. The things He can do with a broken life! It is amazing. This friend of yours is something else. The things about you that destroy every other relationship in your life are the basis for your relationship to Him. And your friendship with Him brings relief and rescue for each of these other relationships. This is your friend.
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” (ESV)
In reading about Jesus throughout the Gospels, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Jesus is unwilling to send people away in need… ever. He is permanently unwilling that you or I would walk away from Him hungry even once. There’s never a question of His willingness to bless us. He has come to give us the full measure of what our souls yearn for. This is always His posture. When I come to him in the morning via opening up His Word, I come to the One who is prepared for me and who is committed to provide for me exactly what I need. More than this, He is acutely aware of my needs and hungers. He knows what I lack better than I do. He also knows the eventual outcome of my needs, should they remain unmet. (I will faint on the way.) This drives Him to do what He does for me. His love is behind every miracle; it outshines every miracle. I forget this, like every believer, and then I believe a lie and begin to make my own arrangements. “I’ve got to find something to eat myself! I’m on my own in this world and in this life.”
No. I’m not on my own. He promised to be with me to end. He never breaks a promise. He has compassion on all of us who seek Him. Circumstances can’t touch this. What a blessing it is!