I began reading the Bible on January first, after my friend Rachel and I had decided we would follow a reading plan through the year and do it together.
The idea of making a serious reading of the Bible and to get to know the word of God had been on my mind for about a year until we exchanged emails that led to that decision.
Now we are more than half way through, and not only am I enjoying it, I am changed by the experience. And, of course, I can't help but share with you this experience.
I thought I would give you a few toughts and maybe some tips, in case you feel led to do this kind of reading.
We are following Blackhawk Church's plan. We like it because everyday you read a few chapters as well as a psalm. There are also many resources offered online by the church to help you through your journey.
#1: Invest in a Study Bible, if you can afford it : for a first timer like myself it is a life saver! Rachel offered me this edition at the beginning of the year and I LOVE it!
I also listen to the 5 minutes videos that are made to go with the reading plan and are really helpful to grasp the overall meaning of each book.
You can also use Apps that offer access to different translations and different commentaries on the Bible.
#2: Find a reading partner, or 2 or 3!! First of all because in the midst of life, work and domestic chores, it can be easy to "forget" about your daily reading or to let it fall to the bottom of a long "To Do" list. With Rachel, we regularly exchange emails about where we are at, and what thoughts and prayers arise from our reading. If I had been alone doing the reading plan, I probably would have quit after 2 months or so.
#3: MAKE time, don't wait to have the time to read!! it does not take long: you don't need a whole hour everyday. Rachel says sometimes she only needs 15 minutes. As for me, as it is the first time that I actually read he Bible, I need more time:I like to take notes and write down whatever I take from the passages. The amount of time I need everyday is between 20 and 35 minutes.
You may say that you do not have 30 minutes?? well MAKE time! that is what I do: I don't watch tv anymore, and sometimes instead of reading a novel before sleep I do my daily reading!Trust me: it is life changing and totally worth the investment!
#4: Go beyond the simple reading: create an inner dialogue with the text:
When I read the chapters I often ask myself :
- How does this chapter apply to me?
- What truth am I learning ?
- What am I learning about God's character?
- Is there any type of behavior or character issues I am taught to avoid/ to embrace ?
Finally, when I have time, I use the reading of the psalm as a prayer to close my reading.
By going through these kind of questions, I find that I go beyong the simple reading and actually can apply these ancient truths to my own daily life.
I also learn to grow in my relationship with God, as I can see, again and again, how trustworthy and faithful He is.
How reading the Bible in a year has changed me so far:
#1 I truly feel the love of God, I trust in His unfailing love and faithfulness. Therefore, I don't feel the need for others approval as much as I used to. Don't get me wrong, I am not a saint, and I still crave attention sometimes. But I don't let others define me: I am defined by my relationship with God and by His love for me. I used to get really stessed if I didn't blog twice a week, or if I didn't get any comments on my blog. But, strangely, I don't feel that way anymore. I do things that fullfil and make me happy. I do things because I think they create beauty and add peace to the world, not to impress anyone. And that is a big step forward!
#2 : I don't have to do things in my own strength: I can reach for Him and know He is here, with me.Therefore I feel stronger and less prone to stress and anxiety. And even when I am, it doesn't lead to excessive crisis.
# 3: I am more thankful, praising and thanking God for the small things, the daily beauties.
#4: I am more tolerant and I am more inclined to help others and to listen to them in a proper way.
#5: I know that I am a mess, full of imperfections. But I am loved and I CAN love thanks to God's grace.
Actually, I could go on forever! the transformation is quite radical. I don't know if it is visible on the outside, but I feel how radical it is on the inside. I still have a long way to go in faith, but the journey really is amazing and it brings so much joy!
If ever you have been brave enough to reach the end of this long post, well: thank you! If you have tried this kind of reading, please do share your experience or questions with me! I would love to hear!