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Friday, May 15, 2009

Confessions of a Reformed Bible Speed Reader

My son pulled out a toy today that he has almost never played with. He got Batman a couple of months ago and the toy has been in his closet ever since. Today, however, he has played with him all day long. A few minutes ago, he brought pieces and parts of Batman to me and asked me to put him back together. Unfortunately Batman was broke. I couldn't fix him. The tiny, interior, plastic pieces that connected at his waste and pelvis and held his legs on just split apart.

I just happen to be laying back in my son's bed as I write this, and as I look around the room I see a variety of toys in disrepair. Most of them are toys that just never connected appropriately to begin with. I'm looking at his Pokemon Center right now -- the top has fallen off -- again. This one toy challenges my sanity because I spend more time fixing it than he spends playing with it. Air seems to be too heavy for its fragile makeup.

I still have toys from my childhood that are in better condition than most of my kid's toys. Sure, my Barbies' may have teased hair or no hair at all, and I may have drawn makeup on their faces in permanent marker, and one or two may have a tattoo they didn't start with, but that was all my doing. It had nothing to do with how they were made.

Toy companies, like many other industries, just don't make good products anymore. They've fallen under the curse of the production-driven society. They use cheaper materials, cheaper manufacturing methods, and cheaper labor, and they charge us way too much for the junk they make. But they sure are making a lot of it -- why? -- because we keep buying it.

Production over quality has become such a habit in our lives that it has bled into our Christian thinking as well. What is the trendy Bible reading method I'm sure we all hear about, and maybe even participate in each year? It becomes a HOT topic in churches around December.

--Read the Bible in a year--

Does your church do this one? Mine does. All through the month of December we hear about reading through the Bible in a year. Even testimonies make their way into an occasional service. And for the rare few of us that actually make it through, there is no victory because other church members immediately begin to encourage us to read a different version this year and the whole process just keeps cycling.

I've been driven by the masses the past couple of years. The first year, I think I made it to 1 Samuel and still experiencing Leviticus aftershocks just couldn't dig in and move forward. Last year was much more impressive, I finished the New Testament and made it through Isaiah in the Old Testament. It was August and I could have easily finished, but I chose to stop.

I had finished my reading that night in August and sat my Bible to the side.

God said to me, "What did you just read."

I said, "I don't know, but I read all that I was supposed to."

God said, "Says who?"

I said, "my Read Through the Bible in a Year schedule."

God said, "What did you read last night?"

"I don't know."

"What about the night before that."

"I don't know, but I don't have to remember it, I just have to read it."

"What's the point in reading My Word if you can't remember it?"

"Uh... well... um... maybe, no... I... well... I guess I'm not sure." I sputtered out.

Suddenly I was convicted. Reading the Bible wasn't taking the place of studying the Bible, but I wasn't studying it every day. I was reading it for 20 minutes a day and was comprehending nothing. But, doggone it, I was going to get through it in a year -- I was on a schedule after all and I was nearing completion.

God made me realize it would be better to study small passages for those 20 minutes each day than to read through multiple chapters each day. No, I wouldn't read the Bible in a year, but I would have 365 fully understood pieces of the Bible under my belt.

God's Word is too amazing and too important to be production driven. If we read for speed, His Word will be about as useful as my son's legless Batman. If we read thoroughly and deliberately, His Word, like my Barbies will last forever.

Have you ever read the Bible in a year? Did you maintain undestanding or was your main goal completion? Tell us about your experience.


  1. Sue said...

    Great post!

    Last year I read through the Bible in a Year and it was life changing for me. For one it was an accomplishment for my ADD brain to just do it, but also I saw God changing me that year. I had just come from deep spiritual oppression from a job I'd been in for almost 7 years and I felt God speaking to me, giving me joy etc as I spent time reading each day. So this year I thought I'd try it again - chronologically this time, and journal while I went. Well... long story short that bogged me down so much trying to "keep up" with the schedule so I quit and decided instead I'd do my own reading so I could journal and try & retain it. Now I just need my discipline back so I can do that well ;-)

    Thanks for the encouragement to stick with it and really dig in! ;-)

    Have a great weekend! Hugs

  2. Melissa said...

    I too read it in a year many pre-child years ago. There were days I would fly through it and not get much out of it, but I specifically remember the OT really jumping out at me during that process. Now I am true lover of the OT! Also, I was going through a painful part of my life and when I got to the Psalms I purposefully chose a red pen to underline the verses that jumped out at me. It is interesting now to go back and read those and see what God has done!

    I am thinking about doing it again in a different version, but also taking passages, rewriting them, journalling them, studying as I feel led. I think I would need an accountability partner to do that with me though!


  3. Karen's Michael said...

    I have tried the Bible-in-a-year challenge many times without success. Every single time I pick it up to read my "assigned" verses, I end up making a 3-hour major study out of it. I enjoy it... but there's no way I can keep up with that pace every single night. Inevitably, something will come up that will derail me off the schedule.

    Sure, it only takes 5-10 minutes to read the verses... but I am simply not wired to just read it and put it away. I just can't do it. I have to - want to! - chew it and chew it and chew it. Otherwise, I taste little - or nothing - and I remain hungry.

    Nowadays, I read a book at a time as I am inspired by the Spirit to do so. Otherwise, I spend my study time consuming apologetics books, Bible studies, or other Christian literature.

  4. Karen said...

    Great comments everyone.

    Sue - What a great testimony you have for the success of this reading plan. I have heard so many success stories just like yours. Those are usually the testimonies that we hear in our church near the end of each year. I think that even those of us who don't make it, if it does nothing else, it at least gets us in the habit of being in God's word daily. And if the result is that we remain in His word daily, it's a success even if it takes 3 years or longer to do it.

    Sue and Melissa - Great idea with the journaling. I don't journal my thoughts about what I read every day, but when something moves me, I do journal it -- just like you said, Melissa.

    Michael -- I wish I had the problem of being stopped in my tracks, but if I have a goal, I focus on getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible -- never stopping to smell the roses. I guess that's why God forced me to focus not on the goal, but on the journey.