Don’t Read the Bible Through in One Year

I stumbled across this blog by professor, author, and defender of the Christian faith, Sean McDowell, and thought it was brilliant.  Why?  Because Sean offers encouragement to those who, desperately trying to read the Bible through in a year, grow discouraged and quit when they fall behind in the designated schedule. From the article:

Why should [reading the Bible through in a year] be our goal? Why should our Scripture reading be about how much we read? There is undoubtedly value in daily Scripture reading. My point is not to minimize this important discipline. But honestly, how much do people really retain after the “Bible in a year plan”? My suspicion is that it may be less than we think… We should have a different goal. Rather than focusing on quantity by aiming to get through Bible entirely…focus on quality.

**You can read McDowell’s full blog here.

The Psalms are poetry, lyrics put to music. The Hebrews would sing these songs at times of worship, en route to Jerusalem for festivals, and during times of great joy as well as crippling pain.

There is an interesting word you’ll stumble across while reading those songs:  “Selah.”

The Hebrew word for “Selah” – “סֶלֶסֶלֶה” – literally means “pause.”  In others words, it’s a “rest” within a musical score.

One preacher defined it as, “Pause; and think about that.”

A professor of mine told us,

“I decided to read the passion narratives (torture, execution and resurrection of Jesus) in all four Gospels thirty-six times in the original Greek language.  I can tell you that slowed everything down. It took a long time. But, it changed me.  I saw things I had never seen before.”

Rather than race through the Bible so you can reach that “finish line” in twelve months, make a decision to “slow your roll”, relax your pace, and stroll through “the countryside of God’s Kingdom.”  Find a “park bench.” Rest for a while. Think deeply about what you’ve read.  Ask God to help you understand what he’s trying to say to you.  Take time to wrestle with the hard passages.

You may not read an entire chapter a day, but rather only a few verses – or maybe one single verse.  And, God may say, “Rather than forge ahead, let’s come back to this same passage tomorrow. There’s no hurry.”

I have often returned to the previous day’s scripture over and over again. Memorized it. “Chewed on it” for a while. It’s sort of like God whispering to me, “Until you learn what I’m trying to teach you in this particular passage we’re not going any further” :))

There is no “falling behind.” No guilt from “dropping out” while trying to wade through the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible.)

Last thing. Ever tried to talk to someone who you can tell is mostly just trying to get to the end of the conversation so they can get on with other things?

That’s exactly how rushing through the Bible can end up – at least that’s the way Satan would like it to end up.

So consider taking your foot off the gas and pumping the brakes a little, and just enjoy your visit with Jesus as you mine the treasure of his powerful Word.

I’m presently on my 7th journey through the scriptures (reading a different translation each time) – every time using this slower pattern.

I write and scribble notes, thoughts, and questions in the margins while highlighting passages and verses the Holy Spirit is using to give me greater, and more nuanced, understanding.

The Bible is actually an anthology – a collection of books – 66 to be exact. It takes time to read 66 books. For me, it takes years. And I can honestly say that every single “adventure” I take through the Bible – I discover treasure I had not seen before.

To quote Charles Spurgeon, the Bible “widens and deepens” every time I read it.

Allow yourself to be drawn into the presence of the wild, untamable Lion of Judah.

When you do, you will find him whispering to you, “This is what I want to tell you today. Let’s talk about it together.  I have a lot to show you.  It will change your life by helping you get to know me, giving you wisdom, and preparing you for the trials to come.”

Selah, Nick