I always begin my year with some sort of plan to intentionally and systematically read through the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16-17 instructs us that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Yet despite my best intentions, I spend most of the year battling the temptation to fall behind and quit altogether. If I get behind on a television show, it’s not hard to find time to catch up. Why is it so hard with Bible reading? What are the obstacles that stand in my way and keep me from faithfully reading Scripture January through December?
Not Enough Time?
I often feel like I don’t have enough time. Whether it’s crying babies or children needing help with homework, there always seem to be physical demands standing in my way of setting time aside to read. I remember one particularly hard season of life when I had four children six and under. With a baby in my arms, I cried to a friend that “I never have time” to read. Her words were full of grace: “Any time in God’s Word is profitable.”
Even back then, with my arms full, I had time. There was the time nursing, time cuddling sleeping babies, time after they were in bed, and other times in-between. Five minutes here and five minutes there every day adds up. The problem I wasn’t confronting was that I’d rather have spent that time doing something else — sleeping, scrolling Facebook, or watching Netflix. Retrospectively, five minutes invested in the worthy endeavor of reading God’s Word would have served me far more than those minutes of rest and entertainment. We always have time; we just have to be honest with ourselves and make good use of it!
Putting My Priorities into Practice
While there are certainly seasons of life that are more challenging than others, I am capable of adjusting and adapting when I value the endeavor. Despite busyness, I rarely give up eating three meals, getting dressed, doing laundry, or paying bills. I have priorities. Sometimes what I say is a priority isn’t actually one in practice. If I wait for a season of life that is calm enough to sit leisurely around and read large portions of Scripture, that day may never come. What a tragedy it would be to get to the end of my life and be a shallow, scripturally stagnant woman with unfulfilled longings to know God better all because I failed to prioritize the regular reading of His Word.
Just Keep Going
In the beginning, I often failed to read past Genesis merely because I fell behind on my yearly reading plan. Then I realized I could throw out the idea that says, “If you get behind, stop reading,” and instead just keep going!
One of my Bibles had a reading plan in the back divided by months and days, and I took a black pen and scratched out all of the month headings at the top so only the reading breakdown remained. If I missed a day, the next day I picked up where I left off. The word April doesn’t need to shame me when I am still reading in July.
The point of reading daily is to continuously stay in the Word so I might better know and worship the Lord, not to be legalistically bound to a calendar. I can’t allow my own disappointment of falling behind to keep me from systematically reading God’s Word for the other eleven months of the year!
A “Right Way” to Do It
I’m often bound to the idea that I have to read the Bible at the kitchen table with my highlighter in hand. A picturesque “quiet time” sitting in my favorite chair by a blazing fire before all the kids wake up seems ideal, but it rarely happens. Some years I’ve planned to journal my way through my readings, writing out observations and questions, but historically I run out of time and give up.
Sometimes, it’s my vision of what time in the Word “should” look like that keeps me from just jumping in. If I can’t do it the way I want to, I have to be willing to try different ways until I find one that is attainable, repeatable, and has the best chance of lasting for the long haul. Some seasons it’s in my bed in the dark before anyone wakes up. Others, it’s been on my phone while waiting in the carpool line. Right now it’s even more haphazard and unpredictable, but I’m still managing to pick it up when there’s a free moment here or there. My husband loves to listen to the Bible using an app on his phone or while on the treadmill at the gym. When I free myself from my idea of the “right way,” then I can have fun figuring out what works best for my actual daily routine!
Don’t Grow Weary
Jesus is the Bread of Life. It is through Him that we have life, breath, and salvation. And God has graciously given us the good gift of knowing Him through His written Word. If you’re like me and you struggle to stay committed to your Bible reading plan, please fight with me and invest your time in God’s Word. Galatians 6:8-9 says:
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Don’t give up, friends! Find time. Make your reading a priority. Don’t worry about getting behind or doing it the wrong way. Reading Scripture is an eternal investment with immeasurable rewards.
By Lindsey Carlson