Perceptive readers of my blog may have noticed a certain tone in my posts over the last several weeks and wondered if there's "something going on." There has been. While I'm not at a place right now where I feel like publicly sharing the details, I will say that yes, January found me reeling from one set of circumstances, and then February threw me into a whole different trial altogether.
But I can also say that God has provided grace in the midst of those trials. And one of the most notable sources of that grace has been my Bible reading plan.
It sounds a bit odd--counter-intuitive, even. Lots of times we pit the two against each other, don't we: "having a rigid plan" vs. "letting the Spirit lead." But I am finding that in the wisdom and sovereignty of God, our plans for obedience can be used powerfully as means for God to comfort our souls.
Back in December, I shared some challenges from my pastor and other wise Christians on the importance of being intentional about reading Scripture. I ended up choosing to follow a modified version of this two-year reading plan--I simply began with the September 18 reading, since I wanted to start in Ezra instead of Genesis (based on what I had read/not read over the last couple of years and where I had most recently been studying).
I had no way of knowing what was coming in my life, or what Scriptures would be most appropriate to read in the midst of my trials. But God knew. He had me in the Psalms each day. He had me begin Job at the beginning of February. On the morning of the 14th, just hours before I would receive shocking and difficult news, He had me in Psalm 35, journaling about how He delights in my welfare.
I think a large part of why I am feeling as well emotionally right now as I am is because I have been in the Word consistently. And I attribute that to having a concrete plan to follow. Would I have turned to Scripture in my fear and my pain anyway, without having to complete a daily reading? Yes, I believe I would have, some of the time. But it would have been hit-or-miss, and haphazard at best--flipping listlessly through the pages, trying to think what to read that might be helpful, landing perhaps on a familiar passage. Of course there is comfort and value in favorite passages of Scripture, and I have turned to those, too. But there has been something beautiful to me about opening to my bookmark, reading the prescribed chapter for the day, and finding Christ right there, ready to apply the balm of His Word to my pain and my fears.
My plan isn't particularly ambitious. Most days I read just one or two chapters, plus a psalm. It has built in catch-up days. And I still fall behind sometimes. But I love the constant reminder and demonstration of God's sovereign care: He has ordained what I will read each day, and He has ordained what I will face each day. Again and again He meets me in these pre-planned selections. Is it little more than an item to check off a list, some days? Yes. But it is more than worth it to persevere through the less-exciting chapters and the readings that don't really grab me, when God meets me in the pages of His Word.
So--may I challenge you again to make a plan (or to get your plan back out and keep trying)? Who says January is the only time to begin? Let March 1 be your day to print off a schedule and start reading regularly. Pick something that works for you; go at your own pace. "Read the entire Bible in a year" certainly doesn't have to be the goal. The goal is to get ourselves in God's Word so that God's Word gets in us, and changes us. And that's not a one-shot, New-Year's-Resolution kind of goal. That's something He delights to do for you and in you any day of the year.
Plan to Read