We started the Read with Me Challenge over two years ago. I met Gretchen (not in real life … yet!) before that, but got to know her much better through our joint adventure in Bible reading. Recently I asked her to share her testimony. Whether you’re doing Read with Me this year or not, I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by what she has to share with us today AND tomorrow!
A year or so ago, sweet Tanya encouraged us all to read our Bibles, cover to cover, in her “Read with Me” series. She suggested a John Piper template that dipped into 4 areas of the Bible each day. Perhaps even more attractive to me (a serial Bible-reading-starter), the program was based on a 5-day, rather than a 7-day week. Ah…grace was built into this particular program. Yay. Gotta love grace. The gentle accountability and cameraderie of other readers was also appealing. So…I took the leap.
Guess what?! I actually finished within a year. However, the best part isn’t that I did anything. The best part? In this process of submission and obedience, God created a thirst for His Word in me which I’d never had before. To this day, I’m sort of “addicted” to His Word. I’m on my third read-through, and each time, I go deeper and learn something new. Woot!
Backing up a bit, I’ll tell you that reading the Bible in a year (or at least cover to cover in a given length of time) seemed daunting to me. However, for some time, I had felt very convicted to at least try it.
About 5 years ago, one of our pastors said something to the effect of, “If you call yourself a Christian, you have to know WHY you call yourself a Christian. Other than Sunday mornings, do you read your Bible? Do you know what it says?” He encouraged us to know why we believe what we believe, not only for our own sakes, but so that we can provide thoughtful answers to others who might be seeking Jesus.
To be honest, I’m not sure why I was so intimidated by reading the Bible. If you’ve graduated from high school, I can promise you that you’ve read books which are much more difficult to understand than the Bible. There are Bibles on CD, many study helps, and many translations, so the difficulty is probably more in our minds than in the actual completion of the task. The Holy Bible is the greatest work ever written, and it was not written for scholars. It was written for US. You and me. The Bible is God’s love letter and life plan for us. If you have children, you know that it’s silly to give them directives and explanations which are far over their level of understanding. God is our Father. What folly for Him to give us a present that we would be unable to fully open and/or use. Matthew 7:9-11 states:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
That said, I will fall on my sword in front of you all and admit that even though I enjoy reading through the Bible on most days, it’s not always the most interesting reading ever.
That’s not God’s fault. It’s ours.
In our sin and brokenness, and in our post modern culture, reading about sprinkling blood on an altar, or presenting animals as sacrifices seems so far removed from anything we could imagine. Even in the much more recent New Testament, reading about forgiving someone “seventy times seven” times (essentially, bottomless forgiveness), and reading about how we deserved wrath, but for Jesus’ saving grace may seem fairly “out there” and unrelatable. Something I never knew before reading the Bible is that it’s written with several genres. If historical narrative doesn’t necessarily grab you, perhaps poetry will. Nonetheless, I encourage you to cast any ensnaring thoughts aside and Just.Do.It.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you just how I did it.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (TNIV)