I’m just about to finish my second year doing the Christ Church Women’s Bible Reading challenge so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how reading God’s word this way has changed me.
Two years ago, I signed up for their Summer reading challenge (well, Winter here, but who’s asking 😉 ) where the plan led me through the entire New Testament over the course of three months.
Never having started a “Bible in a year” type plan before, I found it quite intense jumping straight into reading six chapters a day. It’s not what I was used to!
While I have had seasons of grabbing a Bible verse here and there when I could, my usual reading habit was to choose a book and read through it slowly and deliberately, studying in depth as I went. I’d highlight words and sections according to a colour-coded bookmark guide, mark up the borders with notes and personal reflections, and check the cross-references and the commentaries.
It’s a great way to read and study the Bible in a deep way. I still enjoy it that kind of study!
But I was missing something.
In all my fervour for spending time in God’s word, I was putting “quality” over “quantity”.
Because doing deep-dive type Bible study requires time, concentration and the right set of circumstances… circumstances that don’t happen often for a mum with young kids!
So what ended up happening, was that I would only do this in-depth Bible reading and study time when everything else lined up. And sometimes I would go for weeks with this running smoothly! But then I would also go for weeks where everything was off, and so my Bible reading time just didn’t happen.
So joining this Bible reading challenge where we are encouraged to see the Bible as our daily bread and butter, not as cake for special occasions, has changed my Bible reading habits for the better.
I don’t let guilt stop me getting back to reading anymore.
And I have to say, this is in huge part thanks to the admin team running and promoting the challenge in the Facebook group. They are constantly posting reminders and encouragements to the women in the group to just jump back in on today’s reading – don’t worry about catching up.
They have a common saying in there – “you’re never behind if you’re reading with us today.”
Have you ever started a Bible reading plan, only to miss a couple of days and then give up completely because you feel too far behind?
This has been probably my biggest challenge. I like sticking to the rules. I like ticking all the boxes.
And I haven’t been able to do that. I’ve fallen off the plan so many times. But I jump right back in as soon as a can, and I take heart that the whole point of this plan is not to score points or win some prize… the point is to read God’s word and to grow in our love and knowledge of Him.
Reading the whole Bible has become a habit for me.
There are so many times in the past I’ve tried to make a “Bible reading habit”, but it just never stuck. And I realise that’s because I was actually trying to make my Bible reading time fit in a very small box.
This challenge has taught me that Bible reading is for all day, every day. I can pull out my Bible while I wait to pick up my kids from school. I can put on the audio Bible while I cook dinner.
There’s not a specific time or place that I have to keep my Bible confined to. When we’re reading through such large chunks of text at such a fast pace, it becomes necessary to slot it in throughout the day.
Even though done two years, or 4 separate challenges, there have been whole books of the Bible I’ve missed reading entirely. (Easy to do when you go through a whole book in one week!)
But the good thing is, since reading through the whole Bible has become a habit for me, I know I’ll get back around to those books next year.
I don’t get weighed down by decision-making angst around which book to read.
Allow me to go off on a tangent for a second…
My favourite place to shop for our family’s groceries is Aldi. Some people say they don’t like to shop at Aldi because of the lack of choice – generally speaking, each product is only available in the Aldi brand. But for me, this is one of its greatest selling points! Less choice means less decision-making, and that makes for a more peaceful shopping experience.
Similarly, doing this Bible reading plan means I’m reading the same passages at the same time with a bunch of other women, in an order and structure that has been thoughtfully planned out.
I don’t have think about which book to read next, or what I “feel like” reading at the time; I just open up my plan and read today’s readings.
And for someone who often feels paralysed by too many choices, this is a huge blessing!
I see new connections in the Word.
There are riches to be discovered when we dig deeply into a short passage of Scripture. Looking up the cross-references when you’re studying a book of the Bible is so valuable.
But I have been amazed to what new treasures are uncovered when we take a birds-eye view of Scripture.
I’m reading different books of the Bible at the same time, or just one after the other, in combinations that I never would have put together myself. Often, the connections just jump off the page at me!
This happened the very first time I joined in with the Summer challenge – we were reading through Revelations and Thessalonians at the same time, and I was amazed at the references to end-times in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, and how he wanted the Thessalonians to live in light of the end times.
It opened up a whole new side of Revelations that I had never seen before – it showed me the amazing hope we have as Christians when we look at all the scary things that are going to happen at the End. If we are in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid!
So if you have struggled to see how all the different books of the Bible are connected, I highly recommend joining this Bible reading plan.
My kids are hearing more of the Bible.
I do a lot of the readings by listening to them on audio Bible, either over breakfast or while I make dinner. This means my kids are usually in the room to hear, too.
It’s sparked some great conversations and a growing hunger in them for God’s word. Often they are the ones to ask if we can put on the next reading.
The most challenging aspect of this is that I’ve realized my own desire to shield them from some parts of the Word. But, as someone said in the BRC Facebook group, we need to humbly sit under God’s word, not stand under it in judgement. All of God’s word is for all of his people.
(I just silently pray they don’t ask me what a concubine is…)
I don’t know if this next challenge will be the one where I do all the readings. Probably not. But I know that I am not saved by my efforts in reading the Bible, or any other spiritual discipline (praise God!). It is a gift, and one I will continue to receive with thankfulness.
Want to join me in the challenge? The (northern hemisphere) summer challenge is just about to start!