Bible in One Year: not a challenge

Friday, November 24, 2023

"Habits" is a multibillion-dollar business enterprise. You can find books, business concepts, coaches, and challenges dedicated to breaking and making habits. 

Our social media feeds are inundated with the business of changing habits. I especially enjoy the before and after photos of the brave souls who embark on 30, 60, or 90-day challenges. I even enjoy posts that show us home renovations. I often move away unchanged rather than being happy for the person going through the change. 

There is nothing wrong with challenges. I appreciate the professionals who challenge my children to read a certain amount of books. The goal is to immerse the student in a good habit that will be beneficial in the long run. The problem I run into is when I start a challenge, finish it, and I remain unchanged. 

The world encourages us to remain in the challenge cycle. It works this way: you see someone doing a challenge that seems tough but will bring good results. The challenge is often in an area where most people lack results. People go through the challenge, which is often supported by products and services offered by the creator of the challenge. A lot of people may see results. There isn't an abundance of evidence that people change permanently.  

I see a lot of people taking Bible reading as a challenge. They stick with me for a couple of months and some finish their one-year plan. They walk away inspired and move on to the next challenge instead of sticking with the habit of reading the Bible. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've heard Christians say "I've read the Bible in one year, I don't need to do it again." 

I often encourage my friends with the words of Deuteronomy 6 including: 

"And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 

Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’" Deut. 6:24-25 (NKJV)

There isn't a shortage of evidence about why we should read and study the Bible in Scripture. I like Deuteronomy 6 because it is very applicable. 

Let's talk about the word "observing." I appreciate people who observe the weather. They pay attention to patterns. They consider the past and present. They make decisions with all of their observations in mind. 

When my oldest was little, a good friend who is a retired teacher came to observe him in class. She was very attentive. She wasn't distracted by her phone or the other kids' movements. She was able to make a great assessment because of that time of observation. 

Reading the Bible regularly gives me access to God's words and ways. My observation leads to application. I don't apply only when I'm challenged to read the Bible. I apply it always. 

Reading the Bible is not a challenge but a command to God's people. It always leads to good things. 

Please understand that God is okay with your Bible challenge, yet He wants more of you and from you. The world's business model is one of lack. Every time you finish a challenge, you are left empty. No matter how many challenges you start, it is never enough. 

God wants you to develop a relationship with Him through His word. I can't imagine leaving some of my best friendships because "we've hung out for 75 days and this friendship challenge is over." Relationships void of commitment need to be reassessed. In the same way, God calls us to be committed to His word. 

Yes, you can come as you are. He is okay with all of the previous times you attempted to read and study His word. He is full of mercy, grace, and truth. He will take you as you are and transform you. 

Every time I read the Bible, I learn something new about God. This year, I was amazed at how many times He speaks about His name. I learned why some people may prefer certain Bible translations. As I read, my comfort zone was challenged. I learned to trust God's word. I also learned that sometimes, you will not have a group doing the same thing you are doing so it's okay to read your Bible alone. After all, we will all stand before God to give an account of our lives by ourselves. I want to be found faithful.

Bible reading in a year (or 6 months) can start as a challenge as long as it ends with the reader at the feet of Jesus praying "fill me 'til I want no more."  

More on this subject here