On June 10th, 2015, I started out on my journey to read the entire Bible, something that I had never done before. My plan was to finish the entire Bible in a year, but sometimes our plans don’t fit with God’s, and that was my case. I finished it in its entirety on December 1st, 2016. I found that there is a significant difference between hearing the lessons from the Bible in Church or Sunday School or youth group and actually reading the words for yourself.
Here are some of the lessons that reading it taught me.
- I didn’t understand everything.
There were concepts and numbers and names that I didn’t immediately understand. Truth be told, when I first started reading the Bible I thought, “It’s basically just going to be like reviewing everything I’ve already heard these past 15 years. And I have an easier translation, so it’ll be good.” Yeah, no. That didn’t happen. It was more like once I hit Numbers I started to get discouraged and didn’t read for a month or so. I realized though, that we aren’t supposed to know what everything means the first time we read it. It takes study and effort, because that’s what God wants! If we understood everything the first time around, why would we even bother to pick the Book up again after finishing it? It’s a long process, but it’s supposed to be that way.
- Every time I opened my Bible and starting reading, I could feel God’s presence.
I could spend all day reading devotions and praying, but never have I felt closer to God than when I actually spend time in His Word. It is so amazing. Like, I remember one time, I was sitting there reading a chapter in the New Testament and I felt like Jesus was sitting there right next to me. Each time I looked up, I expected Him to be there. It really brought my faith to a different dimension that I had never felt.
- God is extremely patient.
In the Old Testament especially, sometimes I got pretty fed up when God told the people “don’t do this!”, and the next thing you know, they’re doing exactly what God told them not to do. I was thinking, “Okay, seriously. What is your problem! God literally just told you not to do that!” And this happened multiple times. But, it really taught me that God has patience. He continued to give His people a chance to do what was right, even when they failed repeatedly. And the more I read about these occurrences, the more I could relate. I fail Him daily, yet his patience and love still flows.
- We don’t know the ending.
Another lesson that I learned- these Old Testament people in the Bible had no idea of the glory to come. They didn’t know that Jesus was going to die for their sins. They knew God had plans for them, but they didn’t know what. This was hinted at here and there, but they never could truly know the magnitude of God’s plan. The same goes for us- we don’t know the ending, but God does.
- It’s easy to lose focus.
I do this thing sometimes when I am reading where I will be actually reading the words with my eyes, but my mind isn’t comprehending nor thinking about what I just read. “Oh, Jesus just turned water into wine… cool but now I’m going to start thinking about X,Y,Z.” You have no idea how many times I had to go back and reread entire chapters because I wasn’t paying attention the first time. It definitely taught me to focus more on Him in my day to day life.
- Things started applying to my life.
Have you ever gone in to church and your pastor preaches on a subject that had really been on your heart that week? Well, that’s kind of what reading the Bible was like for me. I opened the book, and suddenly I was applying my life to stories of thousands of years ago. I didn’t even know that I could relate like that.
- It sharpened my self-discipline skills.
It’s 11 o’ clock at night and I am extremely worn out from homework, tests, and school, and then I have to get up early the next day and do it all over again. Yet, I still hadn’t read my Bible that day. “I really don’t feel like it now, God. I’ll catch up tomorrow.” I would complain. When I got into a cycle of not reading at all, I realized that things needed to change. Either I needed to spend less time on homework and watching TV, or I need to stay up later or get up earlier. And, I did. I forced myself to stay up a half an hour or so more to Grow in Him. And that really made all the difference the next day. These were (and are) the best minutes of my day.
- I wasn’t doing this for Him.
Sometimes, I would just start thinking, “Look, God! I’m reading your Word.” I mean, obviously God wants us to read His Word, but not to impress Him, but rather to change us. It took me awhile to realize that I wasn’t doing Him a big favor or making a huge sacrifice for Him- God knows his Book inside and out. Rather, I was doing to to know Him and to change myself. Basically, God’s not going to give you a gold star for reading. He cares that you read but it matters more to Him that you are reflecting upon what you read, rather than being more ‘spiritual’. Reading His word is not our gift to Him, but rather His gift to us.
- My questions were answered and left unanswered.
Before I started reading, I had tons of questions as to where the Bible stood on such and such topic. Some of those questions were answered, but some were not. Some can be answered with more study, but some we forever be left unanswered, and that’s okay. We don’t need to know all of the answers- God knows them. Not knowing all of the answers to your spiritual related questions isn’t necessarily bad, it just teaches us to trust in His way.
- You can answer other people’s questions and share the Good News.
The other day my sister asked me a question about God that I know I couldn’t of answered without reading the Bible. I answered it as best I could, giving chapters I remember reading about that topic and she smiled at me and said, “Wow, you really know the Bible.” I laughed because I still don’t know it that well- it’s going to take me reading the Bible more than once to truly know it- but it was really special being able to answer a faith-based question my sister had using Scripture, instead of looking it up on the Internet. It made me realize just how important it is to know your Bible, because you will encounter people who might ask you questions about your faith. Your answer could lead them towards or away from God. It helps to know what you are talking about when you encounter a potential believer.
- I feel closer to Him.
You know your friends really well, don’t you? And you’re close to them because of that. The same goes for God. If you read more about Him, you are going to grow closer to Him. It’s a relationship that isn’t immediately easy, but it is worth it.
- Those stories that you know so well? They come to life.
The first time I read the Crucifixion, it hit me hard. It hit me in a way that I had never felt before, even after watching the movies and hearing about it in church. There are just words that go right through you. All of those Sunday school stories- Adam and Eve, the Nativity, David and Goliath, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Jesus feeding the five-thousand? They feel more real than ever when you read them yourself.
Starting the Bible is a daunting task. Where do you even begin? I recommend at the start! But, there are so many Bible-reading plans that you can start wherever you please. There is no wrong way to read His Word. 🙂