but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2, ESV)
The simple goal I set in the spring of 2015 completely changed my life. I told my now-husband, Silas, that I was contemplating reading the Bible, cover-to-cover. “Well, let’s start reading Genesis chapter one” he replied. I assumed that was the beginning, but admittedly I wasn’t certain. I still didn’t have a clue what the numbers indicated before and after the colons when people quoted the Bible! (I could only look up verses thanks to Google, I had no idea how to use that nifty little “chapter: verse number” system.)
Even though Silas encouraged me to start in “the Gospels” I insisted to read cover-to-cover. I just thought that’s how everyone read the Bible: they’d pick it up, read it all once, and go on with their lives.
But Genesis 1 kicked me in the gut and sparked a brand new faith in the only one who could save me from myself.
I wasn’t but one chapter in before I realized I had a very hard, very important decision to make. I had to let go of everything I thought or believed and trust this book to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or else I couldn’t believe in God at all. I swallowed the lump in my throat. This was it . . . I’d have to become alright with not understanding even bigger questions in the future besides “but where are the dinosaurs?”
The Bible Changes Us
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CSB)
The Bible is the only book that can truly change us because God is the one who gives us a new heart when we become a believer in him. The Bible is God’s word, and when we read it with a humble and seeking heart God will reveal himself to us.
Reading the Bible had been on my bucket list for awhile, but it didn’t seem incredibly urgent until I finally felt a strange desire to pick it up at 20 years old. I can’t tell you about one moment where the gospel – the fact that Jesus died for my sins and all I need to do to spend eternity with him is acknowledge my complete and utter dependence on him, turn from my sin, and follow him – became crystal clear to me. There wasn’t one “aha!” moment, there wasn’t a “huge breakthrough” day, there wasn’t anything besides the Lord gently leading me into the saving faith by his grace as I read his word night after night. I rapidly became more aware of my sin as each day passed – and I’ve come to realize that I will be a continuous process of sanctification throughout the rest of my time here on earth.
I came to faith in Christ because I read his word.
The more I read the Bible, the more I learn about God. The more I learn about God, the more I think like him, act like him, love him.
Scripture Connects Us to God
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29, ESV)
After I made that pledge to read the Bible cover-to-cover, I made a deal with myself that I had to complete it. No excuses. Halfway through Exodus, I decided I wanted to read the New Testament first, but as soon as I finished that winter I picked right back up in the wilderness with Moses.
Whether or not that goal was good for my faith is up for debate, but it was important for me to complete what I started, especially because it led me to the truth I’d been missing all before that time. There were dozens of studies I wanted to participate in, and I balanced my own reading with attending two different small groups, Wednesday night and Sunday morning services, along with in-depth studies I’d do on the side to uncover the million questions floating through my mind. Can I be real honest with you for a moment? The second half of 2016 I really slacked off on sticking to my goal. I was recently graduated, just started a brand new job in a brand new city, and didn’t prioritize spending time in God’s word like I had the previous year.
Making time to read the Bible daily isn’t easy. I’m a slow reader, and I love to let the Holy Spirit make Scripture come alive for me and spend time soaking in biblical truth rather than rushing to read it all at once. Realizing how disconnected I felt from God during the time I wasn’t faithfully consuming his word, I became determined to buckle down and accomplish what I set out to do at the start of 2017. I needed to push past this goal in order to move on and allow myself to participate in those other studies and projects I’d been wanting to do with God’s word. I gave myself an attainable and realistic December 31st deadline, and I’m so proud to announce that 2.5 years after I embarked on this journey, I can now say I’ve finished.
Even When I Don’t Feel Like It
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)
I have to let you in on a little secret. The main reason I was able to accomplish my goal was this: I started listening to the Bible instead of just reading it. I would play it as I drove, as I washed dishes or folded laundry, as I prepared for the day. If I counted reading the Bible when I listened to Silas read it to me, what difference was it if a recording spoke the word of God to me while I completed the tasks of the day? Listening to the Bible helped me to consume large amounts of Scripture without needing to make more hours of the day.
Do you ever read the Bible and you don’t feel like you got anything out of it? (Hello, Leviticus genealogies, pointing fingers at you!) Sometimes I close my Bible (or the YouVersion app’s audio) and don’t have much to chew on. How is this relevant again? I can’t promise you that every day you’ll walk away from Bible reading feeling freshly inspired and full of all the feels for God. Sometimes you’ll leave feeling unchanged – but oh, my friend, it’s just that – a feeling. You may feel unchanged but know this: Scripture is alive. Scripture is active. Scripture is working on your heart, bending you towards God, even when you don’t realize it.
In your simple day-to-day life, you might overlook the changes God is making in your heart. His grace is so gentle, but with every word of Scripture we hear, he’s working on our souls to bring us closer to him. He’s changing the way we think, he’s bringing us into a deeper faith, he’s tuning our ears to the sound of his Holy Spirit leading us.
When I look back on seasons of life, I notice a huge difference in my faith and relationship with God when I’m not consuming Scripture constantly and when I am – even when I don’t feel like it.
Scripture is Worth It
If you’ve never given consistent Bible reading (or listening) a chance, I challenge you to give it a go. I can’t guarantee each day will feel “worth it”, but I can confidently tell you that over a long period of time you will grow in your faith and obedience to the Lord. You’ll know him more, love him more, look like him more. Reading the Bible is an eternal investment and the very best (and most crucial) thing we can do for our soul. It’s not selfish to set aside folding the third load of laundry for some time with God, in fact, it’s the most important thing you can do to love your spouse, family, or friends better.
Want ideas on how to implement daily reading in your life? Read: How to Spend Time in God’s Word (even when you’re way too busy)
When I started this goal, I thought people just read the Bible once, not over and over consistently for the rest of their lives. I think I’ve acquired more questions now that I’ve finished than when I started. I’ll always have a reason to dig deeper. I’ve fallen in love with God’s story, and I will never put it down.
I will continue to listen to the Bible in order to consume large amounts at a time, and I will pick up different studies guilt-free because I’m no longer binding myself to a restrictive goal. I finished what I started, not realizing it was simply the forward notes to the novel of my life.