Day 5,110 of being a Christian.
Day 3 of reading my Bible daily.
I have never developed a consistent practice of reading my Bible…and I really don’t like to admit that to other Christians. It’s been a struggle of mine since I was a teenager. At least, that’s when I began to seriously try to get into the Word every day. When I attended a Christian camp in the summer, I would read my Bible daily during the time set aside for personal devotions, and then would continue with it once camp was over for…about four days. And once I missed that first day, I never got back into the schedule.
For about five weeks now, Ethan and I have been reading and discussing in class with Pastor Quigley the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. Not surprisingly, after the introductory chapter on what spiritual disciplines are and why they are necessary to the Christian life, the next two chapters are devoted to discussing the discipline of reading God’s Word. It was not a new lesson for me, but it was a convicting challenge that again forced me to ask myself if I really believe that reading God’s Word is important.
One reason—well, excuse—that I have neglected to read my Bible diligently is that I’ve argued that I shouldn’t read it with a drudging attitude. I know I am not alone in this because the handful of Christians to whom I have admitted my Scriptural-deficiency have admitted to feeling the same way. But as I have been taught so many times before, discipline is never easy, and often not enjoyable, at the onset. Pastor Quigley spoke on Sunday of the “plod of the Christian life” and acknowledged that though at times it is downright boring, the glories of God’s promises are found through “the Biblical plodding in the doing of that which is right.” I have decided that it is not wrong to write “Read my Bible” on my to-do list for the day. In fact, it should be at the top of the list every day. Because, as 14 years of experience has shown me, I will never get into the habit of doing it unless I intentionally discipline myself to do so.
I haven’t made a complete 180 since I’ve been here and overcome my failure of discipline. That’s actually been a part of my problem too long: thinking that after reading my Bible for four days or so I am disciplined and good to go. But a relationship with God—just as with anyone—requires diligence and commitment EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I have, however, started a reading plan. It’s the Chronological Reading Plan through the Blue Letter Bible app and it gives me three or four chapters a day to read. I’ve also purchased a notebook and have been recording my thoughts throughout my reading, which has helped me to know what to pray about at the end of my reading. Yes, I have missed a few days, but having a plan is one of the things that has kept me from the recurring theme of quitting because I no longer have the excuse of not knowing what to read.
Packer was quoted in the closing lines of chapter 3 in our spiritual disciplines book as saying, “If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible… I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people off.” I believe that the ease with which I ignore God’s Word above many other things is a scheme of the devil, as well as a testimony to Scripture’s transformative power. And I also believe that one of the ways he keeps us from reading it is by allowing us to feel as if we are the only Christian in the world who struggles this way, which keeps us from asking others for help and accountability.
So, I write this to you as a confession, a challenge, and a request: I am a Christian who does not read God’s Word diligently. If you find yourself in the same situation, will you strive to cultivate that discipline? And if you will, and if you already have, will you commit to helping other Christians do the same?
Some of the week’s (12th-18th February) pictures: