Whimsy, encouragement and inspiration are all very nice things, but I crave practical advice once I have been inspired to do something. Hopefully reading about someone else's parallel journey has inspired us to read our Bibles, but HOW?
Sadly, this has been my experience for much of my life. Until about six years ago, I NEVER made it through the Bible on one of those programs. In summary: I got sick. Traveled. Married. Raised children. The weather was bad. Or beautiful. My aunt had brain surgery. My in-laws dropped by for a day. The taxes were due at midnight, we were eating Chinese take-out, and still trying to figure out Turbo-tax. The engine fell out of the car while I was driving. That was hard to explain to my husband who sort of believes some of our car repairs are due to my wild driving. Thankfully the Ford Company came to my aid when it recalled that year’s Taurus for bad motor mounts.
So when Denis discovered a read-through-the-Bible-plan which he called Reading for Biblical Literacy, I was cautious about it. After all, I was a veteran who’d tried everything. It first came to his attention through Douglas Kelly’s book Why Pray? The basic plan dates from the time of the Puritans. It was given to him by Venus Brooks, a pastor from the Lumbee Indian tribe. Dr. Kelly writes, "Its special value is that it gives you a varied diet by exposing you to different parts of Scripture each day while providing continuity by causing you to return to the same section on the same day of the week all through the year." Mysteriously, despite all, I am among his chosen. It is sheer grace.
So throughout the year you read the following:
Sunday: The books of poetry
Monday: The Pentateuch
Tuesday: O.T. history
Wednesday: O.T. history (There is a lot of it.)
Thursday: O.T. prophets
Friday: N.T. history
Saturday: N.T. epistles
So while having a fit of resolutions on a January 1st some years ago, I pulled it out, cut down the margins, folded it in half so it would fit in my Bible, and began.
The big difference between this plan and any other I had tried was that it was not tied to any particular date. On any day of the week, say it was Friday, I read the assigned portion and happily checked it off. Fridays were good days and it is true I finished all of them before I finished the Saturdays, but then I simply read wherever I was behind.
I was not tempted to cheat, because there were no unsightly gaps. I knew it was going to take me longer than a year. And, after all, what is so inspired about doing it in a year? Nothing. I also liked not having to look up five different references in one day. You could just settle in and read an entire assignment which came from one book. It also had the advantage of giving more context, because you read a whole chunk at a time rather than a few verses here and there.
Clearly another advantage in the arrangement was that it helped me see the remarkable unity and interconnections that run through the entire Scripture. On Monday I would be reading about the covenant God made with Abraham, and on Saturday Paul would be talking about the very same thing in Romans.
And I figured out at least one thing about Numbers. If God cared enough about all those tribes and clans to count the people and to name them so we could look at them in the year 2002, then it is a certain kind of evidence that God is mindful of every one of his people no matter how anonymous or insignificant we think we are. But the best thing by far was simply checking off a day’s portion not a DATE.
I got through the whole Bible. It only took me a year and six months.
A PDF containing the entire program is available by following this link.
The three part series, as it appears on this blog, was written by Margie Haack and borrowed from the Ransom Fellowship's blog where you can read the post in it's entirety. 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.