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.

Reading the Bible in a Year

I’ve been an avid Bible reader for a long time and I believe that it is the inspired word of God, useful for teaching and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  While I’ve read the New Testament many times over I can’t say that I’ve read the Bible in it’s entirety.  I think I’ve missed some Old Testament stuff and I know for sure that I haven’t read any of the “begats” the lineage found in chapters upon chapters of some books of the Bible.  Since I believe that the whole of Scripture is worth while I decided that I should try to read the whole Bible.

My husband for Christmas gave me this beautiful olive green Bible with my name engraved in the bottom right in gold script.  It’s an ESV Study Bible and is about 2-3 inches thick, chock full of notes, commentaries, full-color maps, and in the last few pages, a year-long reading plan.  This reading plan is different than the others I’ve seen because it gives four sections of reading for each day: the Psalms and Wisdom Literature, the Pentateuch and history of Israel, the Chronicles and Prophets, and the Gospels and Epistles.  The fact that there’s a sampling of four different types of books in the Bible appealed to my dynamic personality.  I like to change things up: my nail polish is changed weekly, I like different hand soaps at my sinks, and I enjoy wearing diverse kinds of earrings.  Plugging through the Bible a book at a time, is dreary to me, and I’ve tried it, never making it past Exodus.  By the time I’ve made it through Genesis I’m exhausted.  I’m hoping this new reading plan will help with that.

I know that I will likely not make it to reading the four sections every day and so I will give myself grace when (not if) I miss a day.  I bought a spiral notebook and wrote down, in advance, the week’s readings in a section, undated.  The reading plan in the Bible broke the readings into days and has everything laid out from January to December.  I’ve taken liberties with the plan as I’ve started it on July 1.  I figure the first of July is a reasonable alternative to the first of the year.  The year begins for me in August since I’m a high school teacher, what’s one more month back for the beginning of the school year?

I’ve made it through the first week and have already got a lot out of it.  The introduction to the Daily Bible Study Reading Plan in my ESV Study Bible says that I ought to “…Pray(ing) to the Father that the Spirit will take what all the Scriptures teach about Christ and apply it to your mind and heart and life.”  I have been doing that and I’ve found throughout this week for it to be the case.  I’ve read scriptures this week that my spirit found comfort in and reassurance.  “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.” (Psalm 3:3).

I did make it through the first seven chapter of Chronicles without my eyes glazing over too much.  This is one of the books with all the “begats” and lists all the descendants of many, many, people, most of them men.  I perked up whenever the Chronicler mentioned the sister of so-and-so, and I wonder why she was mentioned.  What special thing did she do?  In exasperation on the first day after reading 1 Chronicles 1, I looked in my ESV’s “Introduction to I Chronicles” to find out what the point was for these lists upon lists of descendants. I counted 23 names in a list of descendants one time and thought how impressive that is.  I don’t know 23 of my ancestors!  Why would this be in the Bible?  According to the ESV’s “Introduction of I Chronicles” the point of all those lists of ancestors is to remind the newly-returned exiled Jews that they are still people of God.  It was to remind them of where they came from as I’m sure they had trouble remembering, being in captivity for all those years.

I’m excited to continue this reading plan and see where the Holy Spirit takes me.  This year-long plan may take me a year and a half but I’ll get through it.  The key is to do my reading the same time everyday: in the morning before I start my day.

Here is a link to the ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan that I’m following.  It is meant to be cut into four bookmarks and each reading checked off of as you go and starts on January 1.  I’ve started only a week ago and chose to write down the day’s listing in an undated notebook so I can read the selection and not get confused about the dates or give myself grace when I miss a day.