My Bible Reading Journey
by Nancy Admiraal, guest author
I resolved to read the entire Bible. Now I'm not the first person to make this commitment, and I won't be the last, but I think most people start the book of Genesis with much enthusiasm. Not I. I've read through the Bible before (it took about four years) and I knew right from the start that some of the reading would be a real slog for me. Leviticus loomed large on the horizon, just two books after Genesis, and my skewed perception of the Prophets, a big tangled mess of weeping, wailing, and judgment, loomed even larger.
Like pushing yourself to do an extra mile on the treadmill, I knew it would be good for me and achieve some great results, but would I have the endurance to make it all the way at a decent pace?
My chosen method was The Daily Bible In Chronological Order, 365 Daily Readings, New International Version. Of course you can simply read the Bible from cover to cover or follow any number of online reading plans, but this Bible has a date written next to each day's Scripture portion. For better or worse, I'm a person who rebels against routine, so I knew from the start that I probably wouldn't stay precisely on schedule. The dates helped me gauge my relationship to the goal. I permitted myself to be up to fifteen (15) days behind schedule, and at times achieved the distinction of being eight (8) days ahead of schedule. That didn't last long, but it sure felt good.
A few precious, random highlights from Scripture during that year: First of all, Genesis is an awesome story. Besides all four gospels, Genesis has become my favorite book. Who does not cringe every time they read about Satan tricking Eve who tricks Adam into taking that forbidden fruit, thereby moving our default position from “innocent” to “guilty”? Several of us can relate to Sarah's impatience with infertility and her grasp for a solution by means of Hagar her servant. Who is not thrilled by Joseph's revelation of his own identity to his long-lost brothers in Egypt? The origins of Scripture and our own lives reside in Genesis.
Second, Solomon's story really struck me this year. In 1 Kings 3, God demonstrated his pleasure with Solomon by offering him anything he wanted. Instead of asking for wealth, military success, or a long life, Solomon asked for wisdom. “I will give you a wise and discerning heart … I will give you what you have NOT asked for – both riches and honor.” (1 Kings 3:12-13) Basically, God lavished blessings on Solomon and Solomon pleased the Lord in many ways, especially by building the temple.
But this was the catch … Solomon had a bit of a thing for women. Seven hundred wives and 300 concubines to be exact. His wives led him astray. “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” (1 Kings 11:3,4) What an incredible fool! The man with everything lost it all, including the kingdom. Because of his love for David, God did not take it away during Solomon's lifetime, though. The Bible doesn't tell us about Solomon's ultimate destiny, but his story is a timely warning. Love the Lord with all your heart and stay away from people and things that lead you astray.
The last thing I notice from my reading is that there are a lot of prophesies in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is REALLY long compared to the New Testament. Now I know this sounds elementary, but the result of reading the OT from January through mid-October was that I was thirsty for Jesus in much the same way as Israel should have been after all those many thousands of years!
The parallel experience struck me as God's intention. We are supposed to drink up the gospels after reading through the desert of Israel's disobedience. Mary's words at the angel's announcement that she will bear Jesus, the Savior of the world: “I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Matthew 1:38) might be the slogan of my life if I could just get over myself. I still cry every time I read of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Oh, and my all-time favorite: Peter walking on the water with Jesus. This story is all of life. Like Peter, we oscillate between magnificent trust and dismal failure to trust. Jesus often calls us to walk on water, and he's always asking why we have such little faith.
I am ten days behind my Bible reading schedule. And I do not have a special place that I read every day. In reality, every place you or I read the Bible can be special … the waiting room at the dentist's office, the carpool line, the Mr. Clean Car Wash, your kitchen chair.
Don't wait another year for God to call you out on the water.
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