Friday, February 10, 2012

A Bible Dropout


Confession time. I'm a Bible Reading Plan dropout. I've started and stopped so many different Bible reading plans that I've lost count. I always start strong with my Bible and my journal by my side. After a few weeks or months, life gets busy, I get behind, and eventually I give up.

I'm not proud of this. It's pretty embarrassing. I write inspirational fiction. I go to church every Sunday. Shouldn't I have enough discipline to read my Bible?

Recently, this all changed.

At the end of last year, I opened my Bible and read Genesis, Chapter 1. The next night I read Chapter 2, and I continued reading one chapter per night. Slowly, I began seeing the Bible, not as something on my to-do list, but as the story of how my God was saving His people. I write novels - so obviously stories speak to me. For the first time, I began seeing the beautiful, heart wrenching story of God's love for us in the pages of my Bible.

This time the habit stuck. Not only that, but it has been life changing for me. I truly believe I'll finish the Bible this year (probably sometime this summer), and when I'm finished, I'll start right back at Genesis. Not because it's a New Year's resolution or something on my list of things to do, but because I can't imagine my life without it.

That being said, it hasn't been easy. The Old Testament can be tedious, difficult to understand, and frustrating to read. Okay, that's an understatement. There are things in the Bible that have been just plain disturbing to me. God has done things that I don't understand. That fact used to frighten me...a lot. I'm learning to give those feelings and that confusion to God, and He's teaching me that I can't fit the Creator of the universe into the neat box I've tried to create for Him. Sometimes I can't explain His plans or His story, but our God is a big, awesome, powerful God. In the end, that's all I need to know.

28 comments:

  1. I've never been a Bible plan reader. It has always felt like I'm reading out of obligation. I love to just read and study, and discover. I do have a chronological one year Bible and that's different than a reading plan. I guess b/c it has commentary and well, is in order! I'm glad you posted this! Too many people feel like something's wrong when they get nothing out of a planned reading.

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    1. I can definitely see your passion for the Bible. It's inspiring!

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  2. The last time I read my Bible through I decided to read one book a day. I ended up reading it much more quickly than that. Especially with the letters, it make so much more sense when you read the whole thing at one time. The chapter breaks often occur in the middle of a thought.

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    1. That's so true. There are many chapters that are easier to read in one sitting. That's what happened when I read Ruth and why I'm going through the Bible much faster than I expected.

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  3. This might sound strange, but I'm getting a lot out of reading The Storybook Bible to my preschooler. It's reminding me how interwoven all the stories of the Bible are and how they all lead to Jesus.

    I love how even simple things reveal the greatest truth.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. :) I enjoy my son's storybook Bible too. It's so sweet and a great reminder of God's love for us.

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  4. Thanks for your transparency, Julie! I've done a few read-through-the-bible plans in the past and then took a couple years off to just study certain portions of scripture. This year, I'm doing a read-through again, and like you, have found it invigorating! God is good!

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    1. Yes! Invigorating is a great word for it!

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  5. Yay for you!!!! There's something about reading the Bible in its entirety that draws so many threads together and helps us see God and the story of redemption all through His Word.

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    1. Thanks, Erica. You explain it well. It is really about seeing how all those threads work together.

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  6. That's great that you're reading the Old Testament. I LOVE it. I especially love the stories, of people. And yes, God's love is central.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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    1. I had read bits and pieces in the past, but this time the puzzle pieces are fitting together so much better. I think when that starts to happen is when we're able to love it. Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I can't stick to a Bible plan either.

    Vondraya

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    1. Hi Vondraya. I bet there are a lot of us out there who have struggled with this. Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. It's wonderful that you're reading all the way through the Bible. I did a Bible reading plan in 2008, but it took until 2010 to finish it. It involves a lot of effort and reflection. The best part for me was discovering how God's plan for us never faltered. People may have done things that you'd think would destroy that plan, but God is so much bigger than our faults, weaknesses, and mistakes. I love seeing how His glory shines through!

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  9. Hey Julie! You're right: God is big, awesome, and powerful- thankfully, much bigger than us! It's always great to be reminded that He is in control because sometimes life can be frustrating!

    Like you, I started reading The Bible straight through from the beginning a while back. But unlike you, somewhere in Kings, I stopped - I need to start back! So keep up the good work!

    On a side note, how is your writing going? Do you have a new work-in-progress? I can't wait to see what work of yours is published next!

    Thanks, too, for commenting on my blog! It's always great to see you!

    Take care!

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  10. Hi Lauren,
    Writing is going well. I'm working on a full-length contemporary romance right now. I'm editing, and I need to add about 15,000 words to it. Thanks for asking!
    Julie

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  11. It's such a big story, the best one too (mostly because we're invited to join it). Keep reading!

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  12. This is so good, Julie! I'm not good at reading plans, either. My Bible app sends me notifications all the time about what a failure I am, but I'm ok with it. :-) In the last year, though, I've really loved the Jesus Calling daily devotionals and find myself wanting to read way more than the suggested verses so I can get the whole picture.

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    1. "My Bible app sends me notifications all the time about what a failure I am." Lol. This is how I felt too. I've heard things about Jesus Calling.

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  13. I'm doing the same thing, Julie! I started about 3 or 4 years ago, and I'm just now in Psalms (and boy, did that book come at the right time after all that death and depression). :) At my current rate, it'll take me 7 years to finish, but I'm not even worried about it. I'm soaking up so much more than I ever did before. I might even make this my permanent devotion plan and start all over when I'm done. :)

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  14. At the first of the year our pastor hands out these little guides and encourages everyone to join them this year in a journey through the Bible. At the end of the year everyone that made it through gets a certificate. I find I just can't do it that way. The guide jumps arpund too much. I'm a start to finish sort of person. I have a study Bible that lists at the end of each book how many verses were in that particular book. I totaled them all up, divided by 365 and then bought a Bible and marked off daily sections. It's a plan that works for me. I've got a stack of certificates and I never fail to have those AHAH moments...I didn't know that was in there...

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    1. "I'm a start to finish sort of person." I guess that's how I am too-I just never realized it.

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  15. My brother-oin-law gave me a Bible in a year, which I've been reading and has helped me stay on track somewhat. I'm a little behind though. :( But I'm in Dec so I only have a month left before I've read the whole thing.

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  16. This is such an encouraging post! I've been trying to read the Bible chronologically this year. At first, I was so into it. There is so much I like about Genesis. But as soon as Exodus starts, I feel myself pulling back going, "Why this? Why this?" And then Leviticus ... is no party. I think the hardest part (besides the fact that some of those history books can be so weird) is exactly what you said - I don't understand why things had to happen the way they did. I heard Beth Moore say that no matter how hard we study the Bible, we will never understand it, because when you understand something, you have authority over it. I don't know why that helped me so much, but it did. I'm praying through the confusing parts and clinging to how merciful God is over and over again. I'm making my way through Deuteronomy now. I think I ALWAYS do better on commitments that have nothing to do with a new year's resolution ... :)

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