At the tippy top of my 5 big goals for the year is reading through the entire Bible. If I don’t make this goal happen, I will be so bummed. BUT if I stick with it, I truly believe this one goal has the power to trickle down and make all my other goals (like self-care, speaking life, and a strong marriage) infinitely more doable.
As the year began I’d never felt more tired, dried-up, worn out. I felt I had nothing left to offer. My heart was full of jealousy, anger, and selfishness, that just bubbled out in my words to the ones I love most. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, and I couldn’t conjure one up on my own.
This goal was born out of desperation. If I didn’t make a drastic change, it was obvious that I was not going to be the mother or wife I want to be. For years, I have not been in the Bible regularly. I would feel guilty about it, and I might even strive to read for a week or two. But the habit would always die. I have never read the whole Bible straight through. Even in a Christian school, where I was assigned to read the whole Bible, I just sort of skimmed as needed.
The last Bible that was really “mine” was an NIV bible from high school. I used it through all my Bible classes and had notes jotted in it – but it was also full of high school love notes and doodles. (How I wish I could take those Bible classes over again now.*) I never transitioned to a grown-up bible that could stay with me for years. I tried using my grandma’s hand-me-down study bible, which was sentimental. Then I switched to an NIV version, but it didn’t have study notes. Finally last summer, I splurged on an ESV Study Bible , with black leather binding and all.
This is my year to make it mine.
First, I chose a reading plan. Mine is conveniently located on a few sheets at the back of my Bible, but you can print the exact same plan here. The pdf is designed to be cut into 4 bookmarks and placed at the appropriate spot in your Bible. So smart. Here’s the introduction:
“In order to make the readings come out evenly, four major books of the Bible are included twice in the schedule: the Psalms (the Bible’s hymnal), Isaiah (the grandest of the OT prophets), Luke (one of the four biblical Gospels), and Romans (the heart of the Bible’s theology of salvation).
The list of readings from the Psalms and the Wisdom Literature begins and ends with special readings that are especially appropriate for the opening and closing of the year. The list of readings from the Pentateuch and the History of Israel proceeds canonically through the five books of Moses and then chronologically through the history of the OT, before closing the year with the sufferings of Job. The list of readings from the Chronicles and the Prophets begins with the Chronicler’s history of the people of God from Adam through the exile, followed by the Major and Minor Prophets, which are organized chronologically rather than canonically.”
Although I’ve skipped a few days, I’m committed enough that I’ve made them up to stay current. Somedays it is difficult to carve out the time, but the time is always there (especially when considering time spent on social media or Netflix). I want my children to see me reading my Bible. When I’m 80 (or even 40), I want to have a Bible marked up with notes, lessons, and praises. I want to find, highlight, and underline verses that strike my heart. I don’t want to just skim the Bible app on my phone, I want the words to lie weighty in my hands and heart. I want to take the Bible seriously.
For this one year, I’ve even decided to say “no” to some good things in order to accomplish this goal. I’m not adding Bible studies to my to-do list. I am not participating in She Reads Truth this year (although I love it and the women behind it). I’m not listening to a bajillion sermon podcasts. I need to keep it simple to avoid overwhelm + quitting everything. Why? Because I believe that the truth will change my heart and mind. I believe it will affect my attitude and daily life. Because it is a good habit for myself and for my family.
For the 40 days of Lent, I’m fasting from online shopping, and I’m using the time on this reflective journal from Naptime Diaries**. 10 days are spent on verses about HOPE, 10 on FOLLOW, 10 on LIVE, and 10 on BLESS. I’m not a great journal-er, so sometimes I just write out the verses for myself or write a prayer. The amazing thing is that many are verses I’ve already checked off on my reading plan. Now I can go back and re-read them, knowing the context, while also pulling out inspiration for my walk with Jesus during Lent.
And you’d better believe this is trickling down to my other goals:
- marriage: I can’t speak life and love well if I don’t seek Jesus as my first love.
- settle: I can’t find contentment if my heart is constantly seeking it in external things.
- self-care: The best way to be gentle with myself is to understand God’s steadfast love and grace for me.
- celebrate: The Bible is laced with traditions and celebrations. I believe learning to celebrate means remembering the good things God has done for me.
* Since I can’t go back in time, I am attending a series of six online classes about God’s story through the entire bible.
** The reflective journals aren’t dated, so you can use them throughout the year. I highly, highly recommend them.
*** Lastly, I hope you don’t read this as some super-Christian type post. It’s a pep talk for anyone who feels nudged to read through the Bible as well. If I can do it, you can do it. And if you don’t feel that nudge, this is not a guilt-inducing or shame-spouting post. There is NOTHING we can do to make God love us more. Amen?