On January 1st, 2016, I made a new year’s resolution on a whim. I decided to read through the Bible in one year. Wonder of wonders (and glory to God), this resolution was one that actually lasted longer than a few weeks.
I just read the final few verses of Revelation two nights ago before closing my leather-bound Bible in silent amazement. What a year it has been.
If you’re still looking for a resolution to commit to after some New Year’s Eve bubbly and a midnight kiss (or a 10:00 bedtime, which is about how long I always make it, so don’t feel bad), I can’t imagine a more powerful decision with the potential to transform your heart, mind, and life in one year than to read through God’s Word.
In fact, I’ve compiled a list—based on my own experiences in 2016—to tell you why. Check out these 5 reasons to read through the Bible in 2017.
1. The structure will help you stay disciplined.
My husband is a coach at Iron Tribe Fitness, so I’ve been working out there for a few years now. It’s a gym where members come at set times for group fitness classes, and the coaches lead us through a strategic mix of cardio and strength exercises. I love this method because as long as I’m motivated enough to show up, a coach will take over and tell me what to do.
Following a one year Bible reading plan is a lot like that. Without a plan, I find myself flipping through my Bible aimlessly when it comes time to read. Should I read the Gospels for one of Jesus’s sermons or miracles? If so, which one? Should I seek out wisdom in Proverbs? Look for encouragement in one of Paul’s letters? Finally tackle Numbers… because there has to be a reason it’s in there, right?
When I followed a one year Bible reading plan, I didn’t have to wonder what to read. I simply checked the plan and dove in. If I’m being completely transparent, there were some days where I was reading to literally “check off a box” on my reading guide, but even on the days where I was mentally distracted, the consistency and discipline was good for my soul.
2016 brought a lot of change—I moved back to South Carolina, started a new career, and bought a house. The consistency of the plan (even when I wasn’t consistent in being fully present) served as a welcome reminder of the steady and unchanging presence of God in the midst of a crazy season where almost nothing else felt guaranteed.
January 1st always makes me feel a mixture of excitement and nervousness. What will the new year hold? Victory? Loss? Waiting? Adventure? Heartbreak? Although there’s no way to know what 2017 will bring, a Bible reading plan will anchor you to God’s faithfulness as you navigate the next 12 months (and beyond).
2. You’ll become more comfortable with the days where God seems quiet.
There were plenty of days throughout my Bible reading plan where I didn’t hear God talking to me. Maybe He was talking and I wasn’t listening—that’s certainly possible. But maybe He was just being quiet.
Before this year, those quiet seasons always made me a bit uncomfortable. Was God still there? Was I missing something? Was He angry? This year, I learned to be okay with quiet days, much like you learn to sit in comfortable silence with someone you really love.
Reading through the Bible will show you that there are periods of time—in human history on a macro level and in people’s lives on a micro level—where God is quiet. This is usually the time between a promise and its fulfillment. During those waiting periods, God’s people have to draw strength from the commands and promises He’s spoken in the past as they look to the future in expectant hope.
Even in the quiet periods, God is still working. Did you know that 400 years passed between the Old and New Testament, years for which we have no record of God speaking of a Savior to come? For four centuries, God was quietly working to orchestrate the coming fulfillment of His past promises. He was steadily arranging every detail for the glorious day when Jesus would slip out of the Heavens to walk, love, and die among us before rising again in victory.
If this year holds seasons of waiting for you, there will be no better comfort than reading story after story of God’s faithfulness to His children—even in the days when He was quiet.
3. You’ll have to acknowledge the sin of our world.
There is a common message parroted in our society that most people are fundamentally good, if only we’d take the time to listen to one another. Although the idea is appealing and a bit poetic, it doesn’t line up with what you’ll find in the Bible.
When you read the Bible, you’ll come face to face with the sin of humanity and the darkness of our world. Again and again and again, you’ll see people make decisions driven by fear or pride or selfishness—and the fallout isn’t pretty.
There’s a lot of sin in those pages and in our world, and it really shouldn’t surprise us. Even Jesus called Satan the “ruler of this world,” acknowledging that Satan has major influence over our culture’s beliefs and priorities (John 12:31 ESV).
Here’s the good news, though—acknowledging the sin of humanity frees you from the false belief that anyone can be “a good enough person” to spend eternity in Heaven with God. 1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) tells us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
By acknowledging the brokenness of humanity and confronting the sin in your own heart and life, you’ll be able to experience the amazing grace that God lavishes on those who repent and turn to Him. It’s unearned, it’s undeserved, and it’s life-changing. But it all starts with laying down the claim that you’re “a good person.”
4. You’ll learn that God isn’t distant.
Some people imagine God as a distant Creator who set the world in motion long ago but has no reason to be involved in what happens on it today. You can’t read the Bible through and still hold onto that belief.
The Bible tells the story of human history, and there isn’t a single page where God isn’t fiercely involved in His creation. He cares about servants and kings. He cares about men and women. He cares about widows and children. He cares about you and me.
He writes our individual stories while also writing the story of all human history. He cares about who is in power—thought that doesn’t mean He always chooses leaders who will respect and favor His children. His discipline is painful, but his forgiveness is sweet.
There are hundreds of words to describe God—read through your Bible, and you’ll quickly see that “distant” never was and never will be one of them.
5. You’ll gain an eternal perspective.
It’s so easy for us to live our lives like one of those horses leading a carriage full of tourists through a busy city. We have on blinders, focusing only on that which is directly in front of us: our career goals, our relationships, our plan to lose 15 pounds by summer, our political climate, and our feelings about what so-and-so said last week.
Reading the Bible through provides a healthy reminder that the world you live in today is just a tiny blip on the timeline of human history. It will remind you there is a much, much bigger story being written than the one you see on the news or experience in your daily routine.
As you realize that your life is little more than a passing mist, you’ll want to find a way to connect to something bigger than yourself. You’ll begin to think about eternity, and when you do, you’ll shift your focus to that which truly matters.
Reading through the Bible in one year led me to pray that God would more actively use me to grow His kingdom. I believe that abundant life is found when I invite God to use my little blip on the radar for His glory and His story—even from my quiet little house in the suburbs.
I’m still praying through the question of where God wants to use me in this season, but the eternal perspective I’ve gained over the past year has made me more committed to listening and watching for the answer.
God used a one year Bible reading plan to shape me into a woman who is expectant, hopeful, and eager to follow Him into 2017. Will you invite Him to do the same for you?
I want to hear from you. What resolutions do you have for 2017? Will you be reading your Bible in a year? Why or why not? Share your plans in the comments below.