I read the Bible straight through for first time when I was in high school. I didn’t follow a plan, I just started at the beginning and plowed through. I can’t say that I was a good reader (I think that I mostly just wanted to be able to say that I had read every single page), but I did it! In the years since then I’ve periodically tried to follow “Read the Bible In a Year” plans to no avail. I usually flake after a month or so because the reading just gets really difficult, and always seems to long. My excuse is usually that I’m better off reading less and really sinking my teeth into it. And that would be true, except that the “sinking my teeth into it” part is also hard to fit in — which means that I’m really just reading less.
But this year I thought I’d give it another chance. I saw this post over at The Gospel Coalition recommending a certain plain, and it gave me hope that I might actually be able to stick with it. It is called, simply enough, the Five Day Bible Plan. It is a chronological plan that only requires reading five days of the week (as the title seems to suggest). Today I started my tenth week (I started late), and I have to tell you — I think I’m going to make it all the way to Week 52.
The plan takes probably 10–15 minutes of reading, but I have made a point to use my daughter’s nap time for my “me time,” and since she usually naps for over an hour it has worked well to read during that time. And for some reason, this time following the plan doesn’t feel tedious or boring or restrictive. I’m really not sure why this is, but I think that it has something to do with the way the readings are structured. It is evident that whoever put this together took great care to fit the readings together well. For example, there are Psalms assigned a few days a week and it has been really fun and beneficial to see how they fit with the Old Testament readings. Needing to read only five days a week has also made it really easy to stay on track — if I get behind during the week I can catch up on a Saturday, or if I need to take the weekend off I can just be a little extra disciplined during the week.
It’s true, that reading the Bible like this is not as immediately beneficial as the grueling work of word-by-word study. But it’s not nothing, and right now that’s what I need. At least I am taking time every day, or most days, to let the Word, which never returns empty, wash over me. It’s a concentrated time of reading the words and documents that recount the amazing story of the God who covenanted with his creation, and who redeems them when they break their promises over and over again. And that’s important. Not to mention that aside from being words and documents, Scripture is still living and active, no matter how fast I read it.
I don’t want to get so snobby about Bible Study that I forget to actually just sit down and read for pleasure. This Bible-reading plan has done that for me — I look forward to reading almost every day! And being able to check today’s reading off of a list (which is washi-taped into my wonderful Bullet Journal) is a reminder to me of progress. God is at work in my reading even when I’m fighting distraction, when my coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, and when I don’t have the mental energy to take the passages head on.
I’ve heard writers encourage themselves on days when the writing was slow by simply saying “butt in seat.” And that seems to be true for Bible study, too. Wherever, however, whenever you read, God will always be at work. Right now I don’t feel up to doing regular, intense study of the Bible, so in the meantime a plan like this still allows me to foster the habit of daily reading and nourish both the love I have for God’s Word, and the joy I find when I read it. What more could I ask of my time in the Word?