Read Psalm 119:9-24
January 1. Resolved to read the Bible in a year...
January 5th. Got a phone call from Mom yesterday morning. I was in the midst of reading and forgot to finish. Today I have five chapters to read and they are long. Half-way through the chapters I move to my favorite chair in the living room and Denis comes in with the calendar and says we must plan our schedule for next fall and winter. It takes a long time. When we are finally done, I am in a bad mood. I don’t like planning dates and trying to imagine whether I will want to fly to Anchorage with him in January and do a workshop on "Why Young Girls Love Britney Spears" or "Cooking up Hospitality" for the women. (I am not an easy person to live with. All the more reason, of course, that I should read through the Bible.) I am not done reading, but I decide it’s time to shower and get moving.
January 8th. Am supposed to begin reading in Job. Turns out it is one of the oldest books in the Bible so for this reading program it comes in the middle of Genesis. But I woke up with a bad headache. I can barely focus enough to find my clothes. In fact, I don’t find them because everything I own needs to be washed. I pull something out of the dirty clothes hamper which makes my headache worse. I decide to skip the ritual for just one day. It seems important to start the laundry. I can make it up the next day.
January 9th. I forgot to wake up early. Denis and I need to make a quick trip to Minneapolis and must leave right away. I take Prayers of the Puritans and Daily Lightand we read and pray together in the car on the way. The Bible reading will keep.
January 10th. Oops. Now I need to read 22 chapters in Job. When am I gonna find time for that? We have guests coming and I need to change the sheets, do this huge grocery shop—one of the hateful little duties of home-keeping—and clean the bathrooms, which strangely I do enjoy. Like crows and pack rats I value shiny things like chrome and porcelain. I don’t have energy for any of this and since I’ve read Job quite a few times in my life, I just read chapters 1 and 22. I check off all the dates.
January 11th. Read Job 23-31. Nine chapters for one day? No kidding? I look at the book on my night stand: J.I. Packer’s Never Beyond Hope and wonder if I am. I decide to read as much of Job as I have time for since our Board of Director’s meeting begins today and since Denis and I are in vocational ministry shouldn’t I at least make an effort to grow in godliness? I have time for two chapters and then I need to get downstairs and put out breakfast for eight.
January 13th. School has been canceled. Ten inches of snow fell last night and this morning it’s blowing so hard the wind chill index is sixty below. The kids are elated and rather than stay inside and quietly go back to bed like thoughtful children would do, they insist on going outside to begin construction of snow tunnels and forts. Which they do. For about the space of time it takes to brew a pot of coffee. Then they are back in, flinging boots and sopped mittens on the radiators where they smolder and smell like wet dogs. Then they beg for Swedish pancakes. The weather has ruined my routine.
January 14th. I am sick. I look at the reading plan and check off the last three days without cracking the Bible. Instead I read Packer’s book subtitled How God Touches and Uses Imperfect People.
January 15th. I begin with confession of sin. Pride—I thought I was better than this, but daily life proves I am not. And lying—it’s still a sin. Even if I’m the only one who looks at my Bible plan. I erase the checkmarks where I cheated, and decide just to begin with the current date, be honest and maybe if I have time, go back and catch up. Some Saturday I’ll spend the whole day reading. Meanwhile I will live with the gaps. As I begin reading in Job again, I hear a light tap on the door. It is one of my kids. Nine year old Sember says softly, "I know you told us not to bother you unless we can show you blood, but Jerem is sick. He’s throwing up in his room. Does this count?" I leap off the bed and run down the hall. It is worse than I imagined. He must’ve drank a quart of grape juice just prior because a viscous purple liquid with white things floating in it is everywhere. The force of it has splashed up the bedroom door and onto the baseboard— which were once white but are now permanently stained a pale lilac. It’s hard not to think he did this on purpose since the bathroom is only about five steps away from his room. In that moment I know I am really evil. I forgot all about Job that day.
February 4th. Not doing so well with the Bible reading. It's hard to keep it going when we are out of town. There are more gaps in the past two weeks.
February 18th. Deuteronomy 12 - 18. I think I might begin to read the book of Luke. I like the idea of reading it with an eye for the questions Jesus asks people. Why does he do that? What do they mean?
March 3rd. I look at my checkered plan sheet with smudges and erasures. It isn’t working. I am doomed. A failing immature rat of a Christian. Barely two months and I am ruined. I quit. I decide to read what I can when I can and quietly slip into First Peter where Jesus says to me through the dear Apostle, "But you are a chosen people..." Mysteriously, despite all, I am among his chosen. It is sheer grace.
Did this resonate with you as much as it did with me? Tomorrow's installment is Margie's solution to the problem. This is part two of a three part Drop from Bible Reading for Slackers and Shirkers by Margie Haack. If you missed part one, read it here. Margie with her husband Denis are co-directors of Ransom Fellowship, a ministry helping Christians engage in postmodern culture in ways that are both authentic to the Christian faith and winsome in expression. She blogs at toadsdrinkcoffee.blogspot.com.