Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26, 2012

Reading the Bible In A Year

Yesterday I enjoyed a very important accomplishment: Thanks to the Bible Gateway reading plan I began on September 26, 2011,  I finished reading through the entire Bible! What a feeling. I am incredibly proud of my Protestant heritage and of the martyr-blood running through my veins, and to finish reading through the very same Bible that my ancestors and spiritual forerunners would have died to possess --- and often did --- was an incredible and soul-warming feeling. I learned some very important do’s and don’t’s concerning reading through the Bible in a year:

Do: Set aside time to read every day. If you don’t feel like it or have other things to do, do it anyway! Not to say that anyone should lament having to read the Bible, only that many people have different attention spans, get stressed with reading too much at a time, etc. But it takes only a short amount of time to read a section of the Old Testament and a section of the New Testament every day.

Do: Study. If you find a chapter or concept confusing, ask friends and family with religious backgrounds. Ask a pastor. Research online. It is a tremendous help to truly understand the context of what you are reading. There are many wonderful study Bibles and online study aids to get you started.

Don’t: Get discouraged. It may be difficult to read through the violence in the Old Testament and to read of certain ideas that people living in the 21st century might find difficult to grasp, but try to understand that everything has a purpose and came to pass for a reason. If you still find it hard, focus mostly on the New Testament until you get your “land legs” and want to try the Old Testament.

Don’t: Ever lose hope. It should be impossible to read the New Testament and not feel a warm, genuine sense of hope, peace, and joy, for “saved by grace through faith” is the most beautiful concept ever created!

One of my biggest stumbling blocks was the aforementioned Old Testament violence. I liken the Bible to a beloved family recipe . . . there are steps that are easy to follow, and there are steps that are difficult to follow. A cook might look at those difficult steps with wariness and consternation, but the truth is, without all steps, both difficult and easy, there will be no finished product and no tasty meal.

Scripture is like that. We all like the easy steps best. Jesus’ parables. The story of crucifixion and resurrection. The hauntingly powerful Psalms and Proverbs. Then there are the parts we may wave away as “too hard” to understand or “too harsh” to appreciate. But without them, the story would not be complete, and everything would not fall into place. The result of this eternal “recipe” is God’s love and mercy, baked on the hearth of Christian hearts on fire for God.

Amen and amen.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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