A few years ago, I set out to read the Bible in a year, and it was when the calendar flipped from January to February that I began reassessing my goal.
Alright - I was considering giving up.
Reading the Bible in a year is an aggressive goal - a worthy goal, yes - but aggressive nonetheless. Most read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans have readings every day, and let's face it - life happens. It's hard to commit to doing something for 365 days of the year.
We often feel a burst of energy and excitement around January 1st, which slowly wanes in the weeks to follow. Then we rely on sheer discipline for the rest of the year to carry us through. But inevitably we fall behind. Shame and frustration take over and it's so tempting to throw in the towel. I get it.
But what if we redefined success? What if we stepped back, took a breath, and reminded ourselves about why we are doing this in the first place. Here are three truths to remember when you find yourself floundering in your Bible reading:
Run to Jesus for grace
When we are in Christ, our failures are always met with grace. Always. He knows we are weak and frail - in fact, we are made from dust. When we proclaim grand aspirations and promise Him great things, He must chuckle and wait patiently for us to come to Him in our failure. Peter declared that he would die with Jesus, but Jesus said Peter was going to deny Him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning. The spirit is willing but the flesh is so weak.
Failure does not disqualify us from the kingdom. And neither does completing a Bible reading plan earn gold stars in the kingdom. Jesus doesn't expect perfection; instead He is after hearts that are fully committed to Him. So run to Jesus in your failure. You will be met with abundant grace.
Perhaps your Bible reading goal for this year was not realistic. Consider your current season of life and the amount of time you have to dedicate to reading the Bible. If your desire to read the Bible in a year simply won't fit in your life, then scale it back. Maybe reading one of the testaments is a more realistic goal. Or perhaps spreading the Bible over two years is more suitable to your life.
If you are reading with a community and you get behind, here's a little secret: don't catch up. That's it. Just do the reading for today and let the missed readings go. That way you can stay in step with your friends as you journey through Scripture.
Another way you can redefine expectations is to reimagine the method. Listening to an audio Bible is an excellent way of immersing yourself in Scripture. And the beauty of consuming Scripture auditorily, is that it can be coupled with another activity. Multi-tasking is not conducive to serious study of the Word of God, but it certainly counts for meditating on Scripture.
Remind yourself of the real goal
The goal is not to read the Bible in a year. Sure, that is what you are working towards as you check off the little boxes on your plan, but that's not the highest goal. The real goal is to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus through His Word.
When you keep this goal in view, you can celebrate any amount of time spent in the Word of God. It's not about perfection or checking things off a list, but it's about forward movement towards the heart of the Father.
So keep going, sweet friend! Ask the Holy Spirit for perseverance. And when you miss a day or two (which you will), refuse to let condemnation tempt you towards despair and simply jump back in. God is so pleased to meet with you on the pages of His Word.