2020 changed me. Most of us can say the same. Our world became an unfamiliar place that few imaginations could have even conjured. But a decision I made on January 1st, 2020, before any of these unprecedented events were a reality, changed me the most. That New Year’s Day I read Genesis 1:1,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
And every day of 2020 I continued reading, until on December 31st, 1,034 pages later, I concluded with Revelation 22:20-21,
“He who testifies to these things says,
‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people.
In God’s sovereignty, the Spirit moved me to commit to reading through the entire Bible in a year, while at the same time, this un-sovereign human had no notion just how much she would need its truth, encouragement, and perspective. In a year that turned the world upside down, my foundation was daily strengthened as I burrowed deeper into the rock that is my faith.
Most 2020 mornings found me on my favorite corner of the couch with a steaming mug of coffee, my Bible, and a pencil. While I labored through the first couple of months and occasionally fell behind, consistency became considerably easier. When the world stopped in March and I no longer had to get five kids out the door to school each day, the routine and structure of my morning Bible reading became a balm to my overwhelmed soul. The truths I read anchored me in uncertain times.
As a Christian since childhood, I have often participated in Bible studies or read select portions of my Bible, but not daily. Sometimes I would struggle to decide what I should read, occasionally resorting to the old “close-my-eyes-open-the-Bible-and-read-whatever-my-finger-lands-on” method, hoping it would be applicable to what I was dealing with in my life. Sometimes, I would struggle with how any of what I was reading (particularly in the Old Testament) had any relevance at all to my life or the world I lived in. Sometimes I just felt bored and uninterested. (Are Christians allowed to admit that?)
What my daily perseverance and the process of reading beginning-to-end taught me was that the Bible isn’t about me at all.
It does not exist for me to find myself in its pages (unless it’s to recognize my striking resemblance to those rebellious, ungrateful Israelites).
It does not exist to offer pithy inspiration and encouragement (though I do believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me).
It does not exist as an encyclopedia of rules for me to laud over people (though in my home you may still hear me quote Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”). No, its purpose is that I might know God and His character.
The Bible, beginning to end, is a seamless story about God:
His great love for fallen humanity
His pursuit and redemption of us
I am not in these pages at all, except as the one in desperate need of rescuing. Reading the Bible is the perfect antidote to the self-focus that I so often struggle with.
Reading through the entire Bible has helped give me a more complete picture of God. It has given context to many verses I had previously read in a vacuum. I now know that the comforting promise in Jeremiah 29 where God promises to prosper and not to harm, to give hope and a future, are not actually promises for general humanity (i.e. me). They were for the Israelites. While they do reveal God’s great love for His chosen people and His sovereignty over their circumstances, I may want to reconsider writing it in high school graduation cards.
Most importantly, reading through the entire tapestry of scripture has more deeply revealed and reminded me whose world I am living in. This is my Father’s world. He has ruled and reigned since the beginning of time and nothing that has ever happened or will happen surprises Him. It has all passed through His sovereign hands. And while I know the end of the story and anxiously await Jesus’ return, His word is here to sustain and nourish me until I meet my Savior face-to-face.
Reading the Bible from beginning to end is not something I merely checked off a bucket list. It is a way of life for me now. On the last day of 2020, I felt grateful that God had helped me succeed and kind of wanted to revel in the accomplishment and catch my breath for a few days. But I also didn’t want to fall behind on the reading plan, and part of me knew that I still needed this, would always need this. And so January 1st, 2021, I began all over again. I now have a new chair in a new corner with a lovely view of the birds and the trees. But my same tattered Bible awaits me each morning, and I continue reading that I might know God better.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.Psalm 1:1-4
I have used the Bible Recap podcast and reading plan. It breaks the reading into about 3 chapters per day and is a chronological plan, so rather than read straight through the Bible as it has been compiled, there is a bit of hopping around. I have really enjoyed this method. The podcast offers about eight minutes daily of summary and helpful historical context for the day’s reading. It does not shy away from hard questions or varying perspectives. I cannot recommend this resource highly enough. And good news! We are beginning the New Testament on October 1st, which is a great time to jump in.
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics book club, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.