When Your Bible Reading Doesn’t Go as Planned

The date was January 1, 2016. I stood at the edge of the starting line for what I thought would be a daunting but exhilarating task ahead of me: reading the entire the Bible within the span of one year. I had my plan tucked into my Bible and all I would need to do […]

The date was January 1, 2016.

I stood at the edge of the starting line for what I thought would be a daunting but exhilarating task ahead of me: reading the entire the Bible within the span of one year.

I had my plan tucked into my Bible and all I would need to do is read and check off the list, read and check off the list.

The first few days I was running at a good and steady pace. I was feeling the momentum of the New Year pumping wind into my spirit. I felt confident in becoming a Bible guru by the end of the year. I was on top of things. On fire.

And then I missed a day …

And then another day …

And then two days in a row.

I watched my group race ahead of me and I stood watching them from the sidelines as I quietly kicked myself for not being more disciplined.

I was scrambling to catch up one evening, reading as many chapters as I could, when Lane stopped me and asked, “Why are you doing this? What’s the point?”

Well, the point is to read the Bible in a year. Duh.

“But won’t you miss it?” he asked. “Won’t you miss the marrow if you only care about checking the reading off the list?”

Those words stopped me.

Why was I doing this? Why was I breathlessly reading through Genesis? Where was the joy or purpose in any of this?

I write all of this because I wouldn’t be surprised to know that someone is currently trying to read (and failing at reading) the Bible within one year. It’s a common New Year’s goal for people want to read the Bible. There are plenty of plans to help you as you go. That’s a pretty defeating feeling to tote along with you as we move through the year: the feeling of being behind.

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If that’s you then let me take a moment, refill my coffee cup, and say directly to you: You’re not behind. The pace you go at is the pace you go at. There’s no actual race. The point of reading the Bible is to draw closer to God. Every word stitched into the text is a bridge into a deeper relationship with him. Take your time crossing the bridges and don’t worry for a moment if you go off “the plan.”

I’m a plan follower. I thrive when someone gives me structure and a list to check things off of. But I worry that our faith might be a “thing to accomplish” rather than a relationship with God if we invest more in the plan than we do in the reason why we show up to the Bible in the first place.

We want the God who makes our hearts beat faster.

We want the peace and clarity.

We want to breathe easier. To learn how to live light and free.

And that kind of rhythm is never established at a hurried pace.

You can slow down. You can camp out in certain parts. You can ask all your questions. God will never leave you behind if you fail to keep up with the daily readings.

I remember three things as I sit down each morning to read my Bible and spend time with God:

1. My Faith Is Not a Checklist.

I am invited to wade into the deep waters of who God is and that takes time. I think about how a friend of mine would feel if we made a plan to meet up every morning and all she ever did was sit across from me, talk for a few minutes, and then check me off her list in her planner. That would not feel like a valuable relationship but rather someone who wanted to do the right thing by being there with me.

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2. My Time With God Is Not a Requirement.

It’s a privilege, not a requirement.

This is a hard one but God never says he is going to smite us or turn away from us if we fail to master quiet time with him. Actually, nothing bad will happen to you if you don’t meet with God regularly. Life will keep moving forward. But each chunk of time spent with God brings its own sort of the gift to you. You miss the gift when you don’t spend time with him. And the only one who misses out, in that case, is you. Time with God is for your benefit.

3. Faith Is a Process.

Meaning: not every day that I sit down with the Word of God is going to lend itself to fireworks and big moments. There are plenty of those days where my mind is blown and I cannot help but share what I’ve learned to every person I encounter that day. But there are slower days. There are days where you simply read, reflect, and don’t feel much at all. There are days that feel like magic. And days that feel like nothing. And it all counts.

Faith is a process—an ever-expanding journey. It’s like a road trip. Some days hold all the destinations and opportunities to take a great picture. Other days are just stretches of the open road. Highway exits. Detours and pit stops. But you need every part to get where you’re going. You cannot skip or race ahead. You have to lean, and wade, and press into the process. There, the gold waits.

This article originally appeared on HannahBrencherCreative.com and Thinke.org and is reposted here by permission.