I hate failure.
It's part of my competitive nature. If I think that there is a slight possibility that I might lose, then it bothers me on a deep level. For this reason, I'm ashamed to say, I have made some less than stellar New Year's resolutions. You know, stuff like:
"I hereby resolve to return every piece of Tupperware in my cupboard that doesn't belong to me."
"I resolve to clean out my linen closet, and fold my sheets inside the corresponding pillow cases the way Martha Stewart does."
These types of resolutions are "safe". There's a very small margin of failure in them. My chances of success are nearly 99.7%. That's why I used to make them.
Last year was different, though. Last year I made one of the toughest resolutions I've ever made in my life. I knew my chances of failure were high, and I knew that I would be raising the stakes on a whole new level of commitment in my life. But I just had to do it anyway.
What did I resolve to do?
I resolved to read my Bible in it's entirety. Cover to cover.
Here's why. Each January, my pastor encourages us to read through our Bibles. But last year, he shocked me with some statistics. Did you know that less than 10% of professing Christians have ever read the entire Bible? Some research suggests the numbers are as dismal as 2-3%.
This was one area that I did NOT want to be in the 90th percentile on.
So I made the resolution, but it was extremely difficult for me for the following reasons:
1. A commitment of this nature is serious. I didn't want to let God down. Talk about pressure!
2. It involved waking up even earlier than I already did, so that I could find quiet time to be in the Word before my three children were begging for breakfast. It's tough to get out of my warm bed on winter mornings.
3. I've tried it before, and failed miserably after getting as far as the book of Deuteronomy.....not once, or twice, but three other occasions.
I've actively read my Bible for most of my life, but NEVER have I just read it from cover to cover. They say that it takes an average of 15 minutes of reading a day, to complete it in a year. I wouldn't know. I'm the queen of the rabbit trail. I start reading my assigned chapters for the day, and something peaks my interest. Then, 30 minutes later, I've read 10 other verses about the subject throughout my Bible, read every commentary, and before I know it, my times up and my children are asking for waffles...2 chapters short of the day's goal.
That is one reason why I must confess that I am still not done. It appears as though I'm going to finish about 4 months behind schedule. But I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to get discouraged. I'm going to press on until I reach the goal!
Sometimes I oversleep.
Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes it's dry reading material...(think about chapters on Levitical law, and Genealogies).
Sometimes I just have a bad attitude.
But I will remain resolved to see this New Year's goal to fruition.....because...
Usually my devotion time is comforting, refreshing, and uplifting.
It's often thought provoking.
It's sometimes convicting.
It's ALWAYS just what I needed to hear that day.
How could I quit now? I've come so far. If prayer is how we talk to God, and the Bible is how He talks to us, then I'm missing out on a whole lot of answers and good direction in my life if I don't read my Bible consistently. I don't want to navigate life without the instruction manual. I want to be like the Berean's in Acts chapter 8. They were wise men who searched the scriptures daily!
So what if I didn't get it done in a year?! Who cares??? This is hard stuff!
There are many resources to help you read through the Bible, and I use one that involves putting 3 bookmarks in my Bible. Each day I read 2 chapters in the Old Testament, 1 Chapter in Psalms or Proverbs, and 1 chapter of the New Testament. As I read the chapters, I fill in the circles on the bookmarks. If you'd like to get one for yourself, you can find them online by clicking here.
When I finish my bookmarks, I'm going to do something special with them. Not because I'm amazing, or because I'm in some sort of elite Bible reader's club, but because, by God's grace, I will have tackled one of the toughest personal goals I've ever set.
Starting off each morning with a dose of the Word of God is a habit that has done wonders for me this past year, and I pray that it will be a habit formed for life.
Bottom line: Maybe you're the kind of person that never makes New Year's resolutions because you're afraid to fail....like me.... or maybe you make them and break them in the first few months. I'm here to tell you that's it's alright to set big goals for yourself. And if you've tried and failed, just pick up right where you left off and keep pressing on! You can do it!