VERY FEW PERFECT WEEKS
(How I read the Bible)
I came to Starbucks this morning and said hello to all my friends. I ordered my iced coffee and sat down to do devotions. I read my OneYearBible and do devotions on YouVersion (an online bible app). When I opened YouVersion, I saw that I had a six day streak and five perfect weeks.
Before you get too excited, let me tell you how the tracking works. The “day streak” is a continuous number. The “perfect week” is not a continuous number. That means I really have read my bible for six days in a row but I have not read my bible for five weeks in a row. As a matter of fact, I have only had five perfect weeks over the life of the YouVersion app. I downloaded it in 2011. I have less than one perfect week a year. Let that sink in for a moment. I am a pastor and I “should” have more perfect weeks than non-perfect weeks. The secret is out,, I am a non-perfect bible reader.
I love reading my bible. It means more to me than you could possible know. I began reading my bible in an earnest way when we lived in Hickory NC. I was struggling with hard things and it became my life and light in the day. I learned the beauty of God’s character and nature. I learned that the words of life came from God and I see them through the life of Jesus. I fell in love with my bible and my time with God. I also came to learn a method of spending time with God’s word that has allowed me to love it even if I was imperfect. I want to share them with you and hopefully it helps.
Relax, take your time:
I was told all my life that I should read my bible everyday. That is not bad advice but it became the rule. It made me believe that the EVERYDAY should be emphasized and not the bible. I was so worried about reading my bible EVERYDAY that I did really read at all because I could not follow the rules. The EVERYDAY rule seemed to overpower the beauty of the Bible. I learned to relax. Find a space where I could read my Bible and attempt to forget the EVERYDAY rule. The less power the EVERYDAY rule had over me, the more I read my bible.
Eliminate “make up” work:
If you miss a day, don’t read extra the next day to make up the difference. Think about it from God’s perspective. God wants to be with you. God has never instituted punishment for anyone who missed a day. He is not the one that instituted the “everyday” rule. He is the one that gave us the gift of the Old and New Testaments. God wants to speak to your heart through the words written in the Bible. He wants to spend time with you. If you miss a day, it is ok. You are not instantly damned. You are invited to come back to the table of communication with God (no make up work required).
Read in bite sized chunks:
Read what you can consume. I promise you that God is not impressed with how fast you can read through the entire bible (although if you make it through Numbers, Leviticus, Lamentations, Ezekiel and some of the letters of the prophets I will be impressed). God wants to spend time with you today. Read for today and not with a time clock. If you spend time with God today, your life will be better.
Keep your expectations realistic:
Not everyday of reading will rock your world. Some will. Some days you will read something and it will change your life. Other days, you will read and catch nothing. Give thanks for the beauty of the good days and trust that the Holy Spirit will use what you read on the “off” days for your good.
Write in your bible:
Underline stuff, take notes. When something catches your eye, mark it up! Write whatever comes to mind first and then move on. It will help you process what you have read and will be a great reminder for later. I have notes in my bible that I do not really want anyone to read. I may or may not have some cuss words in my bible. Those are my honest reactions to what I read. They are reminders of where my head was when I read it. They help me read in a way that interacts with my life. Write in your bibles.
Think about it:
Take a moment to think about it when you read. What did King David feel like when he danced in his undergarments in Jerusalem? What was he thinking when he told his queen that he would become even more undignified? What did it mean to the Psalmist in Psalm 40 when he wrote “I waited patiently on the Lord and He heard my cry.. He came to me and lifted me up out of the muck and the mire and put a new song in my heart. A song of praise to my Lord that many will hear and be saved”?
Thinking about what you read is the best way to allow the words to change your life.
I do not have many perfect weeks of reading everyday. I do have many days of reading and spending time with God through reading my bible. Reading my bible has changed, challenged, corrected, loved, comforted and encouraged me. It sheds light in dark spaces of doubt and reminds me of what is most important, spending time with my creator and savior. There is nothing more valuable and soul-satisfying than walking with Jesus and knowing God’s heart.
Read your bibles friends,, it is worth it.