I was a thirty-eight year old mother of five when I read through the Bible for the very first time. Raised in a Christian home, a graduate of a Christian university, and a former pastor’s wife.
Countless years I opened my Bible to Genesis in January, making my way through Exodus and Leviticus over time– always slowing and getting stuck by the time Numbers came. One year I even got creative. With enthusiasm, I started in Matthew, only to stall halfway through Luke, while reading the third account of the stories of Jesus.
I grew up with those stories, complete with flannel-graph characters and cracker snacks. Many Bible passages were familiar to me, and I could get around my Bible fairly well.
But I felt inadequate–scripturally handicapped.
How could I really understand my faith, and get to know God’s heart of love toward me, if I hadn’t even read all His words to me?
Reading my Bible had seemed like a chore; boring and cumbersome, and beyond my understanding at times.
Yet God’s message became so clear, once I read every word for myself.
God’s Word is a message of mercy, not condemnation–for relationship, not rules. [Tweet that]
So. What made the difference?
I joined the women’s ministry leadership team at our new church, and began a six-week mandatory training for leaders. Six weeks that would be more than just training for me. It would become life-altering surgery for my spiritual heart.
On that first night of training, I was handed a daily Bible reading schedule and a scripture memory plan. I’d be required to read and journal each day, and at the beginning of each week, there would be a memory verse test and a journal inspection.
I won’t lie. I drove home angry that first night.
Forcing me to read, and inspecting my journal seemed intrusive and unnecessary. But I wanted to be in leadership, and determined to press through.
That July began the first year I read my entire Bible, journaling and praying my way through. In the five years since, I’ve read through my entire Bible every year. And if I can do it, you have to know, you can too.
What I thought was boring or too hard to understand, became exciting and challenging to learn. I wrestled through seeming contradictions, became surprised by new discoveries, and for the first time, began to understand the overarching love story our Bible holds–a love story which made me fall in love with God in deeper ways than I ever thought possible, and created a craving for time with Him I had never known.
3 Tips for Reading Through the Bible for the First Time
1. Get a schedule and simply begin
A schedule will make it easier to fit Bible reading into your day. Instead of floundering around, wondering where to read, you’ll simply read what is on the schedule. There’s no perfect time to begin, so just do it. Will there be days you’ll miss? Yes. But the most important part is to simply begin, new, each and every day.
2. Use a Chronological Version
Our Bible is canonized with similar books grouped together, making it confusing at times. Nothing made the Bible more interesting to me, than to read it’s books in the order the events historically happened. I learned things I never understood before, and was able to grasp the overall story in a new and exciting way.
3. Ask a Friend to do it with you
There is no doubt, accountability works. Those first six weeks were only possible because of it. So after that, I chose to continue. I asked a group of friends to read daily with me. We texted or emailed each other as soon as we read for the day, sharing our thoughts about our reading. Knowing I was not alone, made all the difference for me.
~Jacque Watkins jacquewatkins.com
What is your biggest challenge to reading the Bible every day?
What tips do you have?
Jacque Watkins is a mercy lover, and champion of second chances, who knows God’s mercy can find you too.