I’m a wordy.
I fell in love with books in middle school. I’d check out a stack from the public library and a stack from our church library and have them read in a week. I’d return them only to leave with more stacked tall. There’s a running joke in my family when my teacher mom literally said “You aren’t allowed to read anymore books” in an effort to discipline me. It was the only suitable punishment she could think of because my nose was always in a book.
This love for reading eventually led me to majoring in English at college, where I discovered I would much rather write a 15 page paper analyzing the differences and similarities of modernism and postmodernism over anything math related.
My love for words continues even though I don’t find myself reading many books these days. In a spiritual sense, I feel very convicted over the fact that I have spent countless hours in the past reading books penned by authors and yet I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually read the Bible all the way through. I’ve participated in many topical studies but haven’t truly read all 1,189 chapters of the Bible.
Seeing resolution posts about book count goals and book-clubs for the year has made me want to read again – and I should read more (not just of the scrolling variety). However, as soon as I started thinking about all the books I wanted to order, I stumbled across a caption by Kristin Schmucker:
“If you can only read one book this year…let it be God’s Word.”
And I realized deep down that the Holy Spirit has been wooing me all these love-to-reading-years to dive deep into the Book that beats all others.
I didn’t make a resolution to read the Bible through in a year though. I’m a check-list type person and don’t think much good would come from that timeline other than half-hearted skimming and an eager pen ready to mark complete.
I did decide to read the Bible.
Free Bible Reading Log
Did you know almost 90% of Americans own Bibles but more than half of them have read little to none of it? Studies show that while Americans seem to revere the Bible, they don’t read it and because of that, we are becoming a nation of Biblical illiterates (Barna Group).
“While Medieval Christians were separated from the Bible by ecclesiastical authority, many modern Christians are separated by apathy. Herein lies the first and most vital principle about the Bible for Christian living. In order to guide faith and life, the Bible must be read and used. The most potent enemy of Christian life has always been neglect of Scripture.”Holman Bible Handbook
Seeing the apathy in my own heart spurred me to create a Bible reading log. This is not meant to be solely a checklist, just a tracker. We are called to meditate day and night on God’s Word not just skim it and then ignore it.
We are eight days into the new year and according to the timeline, I’m already five days behind. I started at the beginning, only making it to Genesis 1:2 before I dove-deep into the hovering Holy Spirit. I’ve been camped out in it for days and I have no regrets. While I’ve discovered in-depth studying takes a lot longer to make it through a chapter and sometimes even a single verse, I want to read the Bible through, every single word.
It has a box for every single 1,189 chapters of God’s holy words. I didn’t want anything with dates so I can have the freedom to dig deep when the Spirit leads, but also I wanted something with a little structure to track what I’ve read and also help guide me what to read next. Each chapter is also color coded to ten specific Bible genres with a key at the bottom of the page. It is designed to be printed front and back so you only have to keep track of one sheet for both Old and New Testaments.
Whether it takes me 18 months or five years or more, I want to read through every single verse the Lord has penned. Each word was specially chosen and carries deep meaning in the heart of God.
Tithe Your Time
Jen Wilkin writes: “If we want to feel deeply about God, we must learn to think deeply about God…We will not wake up 10 years from now and find we have passively taken on the character of God.”
We must give him our time and energy. We must continue to press in when it feels like we aren’t getting anywhere. We must make reject apathy and passivity.
In Jane Johnson’s book Mercy Like Morning she considers the idea of tithing our time.
There are 1440 minutes in a day. If we gave God 10 percent of every single day, we would be sitting at His table for 144 minutes. That’s nearly two and a half hours! When we give God a tithe of our time, we’re giving Him the opportunity to take it and turn it into a muliple-course feast.Jane Johnson, Mercy Like Morning
Like God tells us to test him in regards to tithing our finances, I wanted to test him in this area. I turned out my lamp and I prayed for Him to wake me up 30 minutes early to spend time with him before the rest of the house rose.
Sure enough, I woke up…about 40 minutes before the alarm.
As soon as I saw the time on my phone, I grabbed my pillow to try to get a few more minutes of sleep. I knew though that if I didn’t get up then, I most likely wouldn’t, but the bed sure was comfortable. Not a minute later my son burst out in a cry. I sat up and thought well I’ve really missed it now – but just as suddenly, he drifted off back to sleep.
By then, I was up-up and quietly entered the dining room where I had my Bible, pens, and notebooks ready. Lord, I’m here, I wrote. I almost missed it.
The next couple days were the weekend so I read my Bible in bed before I got up and later made more time in the day to study a little more leisurely.
Monday came and I decided to set my alarm. I tried not to cringe as I saw the early time, but I didn’t want to miss the sweet time I discovered the days before in the dark with the Lord. I turned off my lamp and went to bed and woke up 5 minutes before the alarm went off. I quickly slid out of bed into the quiet dining room and willed my eyes to focus as I turned on the light. In the sleepy haze, I wrote once again, Lord, I’m here, this time in expectation.
I asked God to wake me, and He did. I asked God to show up for me and He did – I just had to show up for him.
Do the Hard & Holy Things
In Genesis, the Spirit hovered over the waters, brooding over the dead elements, ripening them for the state of new creation. He is the mover. And He moved me out of my bed and to my feet after he moved my heart to desire time with Him. Only He can make something out of nothing. Only He makes dead things come alive. And I’m finding this to be true. I think of all the areas where I’ve let weeds grow up and choke out my passion. All the areas where I’ve let apathy reside. All the areas that seem void and without form because I’ve shut those off from the Spirit.
I think of His mercy, how He longs to bring forth life from the decaying and dead areas – the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (like I’m so greatly reminded of in the mornings). The hovering-Spirit also gives the idea of fluttering, like a mother bird fluttering over her young, protecting and providing and pushing them to function, when necessary. He hovers over the chaos of our minds, and as he does, he begins a new work deep inside our soul-seats working to bring order in disorder.
Just as His Spirit quickened my eyelids to flutter awake and my heart to respond, I wonder if He hovered over Jesus’ body in the tomb like he hovered over the dark recesses of the earth. I wonder if he fluttered over his lifeless body until breath once again entered His lungs and He rose to His feet.
My mornings with God continue with my in-depth study methods of cross-references and the original Hebrew and Greek. I’m chipping away one verse and chapter at a time. I decided that above all resolutions and goals to make sure that I spend some amount of time in God’s Word each day because that is where the Spirit moves. In the morning-surrender, we give Him free reign to hover over the waters, moving and ripening and creating life.
I know there will be days when the flesh wins out and I toggle off the alarm to try to enjoy my 30 minutes or more of extra rest, but I doubt they’ll be restful –
Whatever you do this year, read his word. Let’s not become women who are Biblically illiterate. Whether you dig deep into a single verse or follow a plan to read through the Bible in a year or three years or ten years, read his word. So if you mark one box a day or 5 boxes a day let it be done not out of duty or obligation, but with delight and sweet meditation.
Be brave enough to ask him to get you up. And get up.
Do the hard and holy things.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and adjust your eyes to the light. Sit at the table and open the Word. Write stuff down. Get dirty and dusty with him. He will show up.
And when the light peaks over the horizon, you’ve rung in the new day with the one who made the very sun and the new mercies with it.
Then go forth, with His hovering Spirit within, living proof that there is a God in heaven and he makes dead things live.