Update: Reading the Bible in a Year

The first mistake that I made when I began to read the Bible in one year is to think I could actually finish it in one year.  My focus began to be on getting my daily reading assignment done instead of actually taking it in and appreciating the Word of God.  When I didn’t get in my daily Bible reading I would chastise myself and feel bad that I didn’t do it. I realized quickly that if I wanted to read the Bible through I had to 1) Give myself grace for missed days and 2) Embrace the fact it wouldn’t be read in one year.

We talk about God’s grace all the time.  It is a foundation of our faith: that we who deserve death, by God’s grace, have life through His son Jesus Christ.  Why is it I don’t extend grace to myself? Yes, I will mess up and not ready my daily Bible passages. I may sleep in, get sick, or get distracted.  I must give myself grace and forgive myself when I don’t read my Bible passages and pick it back up the next morning, each new day is a fresh beginning.  The key is to keep reading and not allow missed days to deter me from making my goal. For what is my goal? Read the Bible in a year or simply read the Bible through?  Reading the Bible through is more important than the time it takes me to do it in.

Once I made peace with the fact I wouldn’t make it through in a year, I’ve been fairly regular about reading the daily selections.  I tend to miss Sunday mornings as I like to give myself a day of rest from the alarm clock that morning. Sometimes I double up my reading assignment, read two days worth in one sitting, but it takes twice the time and I don’t do it during work days as I would rush through my reading to get ready for work.  In February 2020, I made it to the half-way point in the reading plan. It took me 8 months to read through the first half of the plan.

Now that I’m about half-way through I am thankful that I chose to keep at it.  It is allowing me to see and appreciate the character of God in a way I never have before.  It’s my first time reading through some of the Old Testimate books and I finally understand why the Psalms praise God’s steadfast love so often.  He showed the Israelites again and again (and again!) His steadfast love even when they kept sinning and worshiping idols. It makes me appreciate why Jesus had to come and understand the full capacity of the love and grace that He showed us in His death and resurrection.

Go ahead and read the Bible in “a year” but take enough time to take the Word in.  Don’t fall into a “checklist” mentality like I did: reading the daily scriptures only for the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.  Read it slowly and digest the Word as it is the bread of life. Read it at a pace that suits you: don’t read so fast you miss what the Word is saying or read so carefully that all effort is in study.  Read to understand what the Bible is saying and pray the Lord reveals Himself to you as you read. The goal is to read the Bible through and not to read it through in a year.

Yellow-Flower Weeds

The first thing that I noticed as I pulled into my driveway coming home from work were all the ankle-high weeds sprouting from my landscaped front yard. The weeds seemed to appear overnight, sprouting through the layered black lining and pushing through the decorative small rocks that make up the majority of the landscaping.  The weeds were a blemish to the perfectly textured terracotta-colored small rocks.

Seeing the front yard like this reminded me that I have weeding to do.  I added it to the list of things I had to do when I went inside the house: make dinner, supervise my kid’s homework, write my essay for my online class, and a bunch of other small tasks that I know will pop up.  I worked all day and I don’t want to do anything. Why should I have to be the one to pull the weeds? Because I’m the only one who’s bothered by them, that’s why. I parked the car, sighed, and went inside.

A little while later, changed out of my work clothes and into my weeding clothes, I began to pull up the easiest and tallest weeds to yank out of the ground.  They are bright green and have a single yellow flower perched above it’s spindly plumage. I’ve seen these types of weeds reach monstrous proportions but I never let them get that big in my yard.  I moved around the front yard focusing only on the yellow-flower weeds. My back soon started to ache and I sat down on the decorative rock which was uncomfortable on my rear-end. Why am I out here?  I already worked my 8 hours today and I still have to make dinner and have an essay to write. I looked up from my uncomfortable seat and surveyed the remaining weeds. There were so many of them, it will take me forever to weed through the whole front yard.  

I stood up and went over to my cactus garden to check the yellow-flower weed status.  I’ve received compliments about my cactus garden from strangers taking their evening walk past my house.  I am fastidious about keeping it free of weeds and there were only a few to pull. I glanced toward my barrel cactus and saw a yellow-flower weed rising above the golden spines, the lone yellow flower swaying in the breeze.

I walked to the barrel cactus, going slow to avoid the spines of the garden, intent on pulling out the offending weed.  I looked down at its base, fingers ready to grasp it like pinchers and pluck it from the earth but sharp golden spines thwart my attack.  The yellow-flower weed sprouted so close to the barrel cactus that I couldn’t get to the base of the weed as it was protected by very sharp golden spines.  The weed grew close to the green flesh of the cactus, twisting and intertwining itself through the spines like a vine. Its yellow flower sprouted just above the topmost spines of the golden-covered barrel.  

This yellow-flower weed clung to the safety of the golden barrel cactus like I am to cling to the old rugged cross.  The golden spines hugged the yellow-flower weed close to it and protected it. The golden barrel cactus was the yellow-weed’s salvation as it saved the weed from certain destruction by my hands.   I remembered the rock of my own salvation and my perspective changed. Weeding my front yard meant that I had a plot of land of my own, having a job meant I was able to provide my family’s material needs, and helping my kids with their homework meant that I had family near me.  

I stood up and looked down at the yellow-flower weed protected by the impenetrable golden spines.  There was no choice but to leave the yellow-flower weed where it was. I’ve heard it said that a weed is just an unwanted flower.  My children have picked yellow-flowered weeds and gave them to me with smiles on their faces, holding out a bouquet of very much wanted flowers.  What an amazing thing perspective is, I thought as I stretched my back, loosening the kinks that come with bending over to weed. I went inside to make dinner, satisfied that I had done enough weeding for the day and refreshed with a new perspective thanks to the rock of my salvation.