I’m a pastor. That means that, in some sense, I get paid to read my Bible. I’m a Christian. That means that I’m supposed to read the Bible. You can see how being a pastor has its advantages. I get paid to do what I’m supposed to be doing! Since this is the case, you would assume it wouldn’t be a struggle to read my Bible. Right?
I had to include this intro so that you don’t think more highly of me than you should. The last thing I want to do is post this in order for you to be impressed by my iron will or steadfast determination. The reality is that I don’t have either of those and that’s exactly the reason I had to do something this radical.
Here’s how it went down...
We have a team teaching model at our church. So, although I’m a “Teaching Pastor,” I don’t preach every week. I share the pulpit with two other phenomenal preachers. This past summer, I started on my doctorate and really needed to do well in the first seminary classes I’ve taken in three years, so I asked the guys if I could take the summer off from preaching to focus on my work at the church and my work at school. They graciously agreed, and I started grinding away in June and July. Towards the end of July, I realized something that was disheartening. I hadn’t read my Bible with any consistency the whole summer! Because I didn’t have to preach, I found that the Bible became dispensable to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still believed all of it was true and inspired and inerrant and God’s Word, etc. etc.; however, I just never really felt a huge need or a burden to pick it up and read it.
I knew this was a HUGE problem on so many levels. Not just for the church that I was leading and the position I’m in as a pastor, but for my own relationship with Jesus. I found myself becoming so busy that relationship took a back seat. It was at this point I knew I had to do something drastic to reorient my life. So, I decided that I needed to read the Bible from cover to cover.
I didn’t want to prolong the time that it was done in, because I knew my tendency to fall off the wagon once I started seeing a little “progress” in my spiritual health. I looked through a six-month plan, a 90-day plan and even a 60-day plan, but I felt like I needed something that would really stretch and challenge me. So, I made the commitment to read the entire Bible in the month of August in between my summer classes and fall courses. It basically amounted to about 40 chapters per day. It took me 2 ½ hours on a good day and somewhere in between 3 ½ - 4 hours on the longest days. It was LIFE-CHANGING, and I kept track of lessons that I learned from taking in such large dosages of Scripture.
1. God is the great preserver/preparer of His people.
- Throughout the story of the Bible, God is proactive about protecting, avenging and serving His people. No one has to stir Him up to action. He’s always aware and already has a plan in motion long before we ever realize there’s a problem. I walked away with a strong sense that God has things under control.
- Preparer – Without fail, God is using situations from birth to prepare His people for His work long before they even have a burden to accomplish a task. So, relax and understand that God has already been shaping you, long before you came to the realization that you need to be shaped.
2. Death is welcomed by His followers.
I was floored by how the deaths of God’s people were described. I was hard pressed to find examples of people going to their deaths kicking and screaming. Rather, there was a peaceful sense in which death was recorded. The people that really knew God’s character and understood that he was a preserver and protector also knew that if death was on the horizon, it wasn’t because God had failed to act ontheir behalf. They knew it was because He had determined that their role in this story was coming to an end.
3. God is the main character.
This sounds simple, but if you’re anything like I was, you don’t read the Bible this way. Case in point, say that you were going to study the book of Joshua for a month. You would probably spend a lot of time studying the way that Joshua leads, the way he relates to God and others (his highlights, pitfalls, etc.). What we end up doing is placing Joshua as the main character of the book of Joshua, and God is there in the background teaching me things about Joshua. Reading the Bible at this pace, however, I realized that after the third day was done and Joshua died...he wasn't coming back. I’m never going to read about Joshua again. It then occurred to me that God is not in the background to teach me about Joshua. Joshua is in thebackground to teach me about God. So are Moses, Abraham, Issac, Paul,David, Peter , and (insert your favorite Bible character here). When the Bible is read this way, and we focus on God, we end up seeing the most familiar stories with new insight into the character God. What better way to know somebody than to see how he interacts with all different types of people and personalities. God’s character is crystal clear in the Bible when we understand that He’s the main character.