I have always struggled to read my Bible consistently. At times, I have been able to read a chapter a day, sometimes even for months in a row. But more often, I slip into the abyss of not cracking the cover open for weeks on end.
At the beginning of this year, I had fresh determination. I printed off a Bible reading plan and made dozens of Bible memorization cards. My plan was to read the Bible through in a year and memorize a verse a day.
I think I fell off of the reading schedule after the first two weeks of January and the memorization schedule even sooner. I failed yet again. Almost every night during the hectic spring months, I thought about cracking my Bible open, but was not able to muster the energy to do so. With a heavy heart, I would turn off my light and crawl into bed. Soon, self-condemnation began to cause me to avoid my Bible. I would kick myself down before I had even started.
I like measuring progress by numbers. Thus, if I do not read an entire chapter or several chapters, I feel like a failure.
Finally, I realized that I just needed to feed on God’s word.
One April night, I fell into bed exhausted. It had been a straining day academically and spiritually. Even though my eyelids were heavy, I knew that I desperately needed God’s word. I was dry. Rather than discipline myself to start back where I had left off (weeks ago), I decided to adapt my strategy to my lack of energy.
I lounged against my pillows and flipped to the New Testament. I landed on the last few chapters of Romans. I soaked up the verses I had highlighted, then flipped to the next page. I started at 10:45 and continued this pattern for the next hour. Occasionally, I would stop to read a whole chapter, but for the most part I just enjoyed reviewing the verses I had highlighted in previous reading sessions. It was informal. It was enjoyable. It was refreshing. And best of all, it did not demand too much concentration from my sleepy brain.
From this experience, I learned that sometimes we need to adjust our Bible reading strategy to our current phase of life.
If you have stalled out on reading your Bible, then do not force yourself to jump right back on your plan. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a chance to just relax in God’s word. Not every Bible session needs to be intense or “highly productive”.
Enjoy God’s Word.
If you have found yourself spiritually dry, but condemnation is keeping you away from your Bible, then your mission should be to find refreshment and enjoyment in the scriptures again. Go to your favorite book of the Bible, track down your favorite verse, and soak it up. Once you gain some momentum, you can return to your original reading plan.
Just remember, even random Bible reading is better than zero Bible reading. If, late at night, reading your appointed three chapters feels too daunting, then just savor a few of your favorite verses.
Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is restart after we feel like we have failed.
Restarting our journey through scripture after a period of spiritual dryness is tough. We just need to dive in, even if that means restarting ourselves in an easier place.
If you were learning to ride a bike, would you rather start climbing up hill or rolling down a flat sidewalk? If you are trying to jumpstart your love for God’s word, would you rather follow your reading plan and trudge back to Leviticus or bask in your favorite Psalm? Nothing against cycling uphill or reading the book of Leviticus, but we need to build our endurance and momentum if we are to make it through the tougher challenges like these.
If you are like me and often find yourself stalling out on your Bible reading plan, not opening your Bible for days, then remember the ultimate goal: get in God’s word daily, somehow. If that means reading a few verses at 10:45 at night, then that is still a victory. If it means scanning a few chapters on your lunch break, that is also a victory. The point is not to zealously follow a schedule-rather the goal is to incorporate God’s word into our lives. Squeeze in time today to bask in some of your favorite verses. Relaxing in God’s word will leave you refreshed, wash away condemnation, and embolden you to read the more challenging parts of the Bible.