I love setting goals for myself, but I absolutely hate it when I do not meet those goals. Sometimes, I set goals that are impossible to meet; so, when I do not meet them I get frustrated, but I move on. Other times, I set realistic goals that I fail to meet and I end up just getting angry with myself which pushes me further and further from meeting my goal.
In my New Years post, “Cheers! Here’s to not Having New Years Resolutions”, I discussed my goal of finishing the Bible. My goal had originally been set for my fifteenth birthday, but instead I pushed it back to my sixteenth and when that was not met either, I gave up. I became angry with myself that I could not meet a goal that was so important to me.
This past Sunday I visited a new church and in the sermon, the pastor talked about seriously seeking to further your relationship with God. He then talked about how he does not mean that we check off our Bible in a year plan, but lack a prayer life and have hardened hearts. I laughed to myself at this because I understood exactly what he meant. When I first set my goal to finish the Bible my heart was not open to what God wanted me to hear, I was just reading it because I thought it would make me a better Christian. Over the last few years I learned that it was important to not only spend quality time reading God’s Word, but to balance it with time spent in prayer. Without a prayer life, I could not focus on what I was reading because it just appeared as words. When my prayer life changed and became a more important aspect of my relationship with God, it changed the way I saw the Bible. I would read it and feel God using it to speak to me and answer my prayers. Suddenly, I was not just reading, but I was learning and growing closer to God.
Well, I have finally finished the Bible. Towards the end of 2014 I decided to pick up my “Bible in a Year” plan and finish it. It only took me five years past my original goal, but I did it. I now know that if I had finished the Bible by the time I was fifteen, I would not have learned nearly as much as I did. I would have read it just to say I finished. This time, it was something that was between God and I. Eventually, I did discuss it with someone who did nothing but encourage me in it and ask me what I was learning from it. I am only sharing it now to encourage others. Am I proud to say that I finished the Bible? Of course I am. Do I think I am a better Christian for it? Not at all.
It is not about how old you are or whether or not you read the Bible through in through. What is important is that you are seeking to learn more and are searching in both prayer and His Word. The two things coincide and one without the other cannot lead to a fulfilling relationship with God. I have felt a little lost since I finished the Bible because I have no idea what to do next. I am not sure if I will follow another plan or just read whatever I feel lead to, but what I do know is that my knowledge of the Bible is still lacking. I feel like I could read through it over and over again and still have so much more to learn from it. I hope to read it cover to cover, over and over again throughout the rest of my life. It may be another five years before I finish it again, but my goal now is to truly study His Word and try my best to understand it and gather as much knowledge from it as I can.
I have come to see that it is incredibly important to have someone who encourages me in my personal devotion time. I find myself reading, walking away, and not being able to tell you a single thing about what I just read. Having someone who asks me about what I read, what I learned from it, and why it spoke to me in the way it did makes a world of a difference. I long to read the Bible and hold on to its every word, but if I am being honest, it is not always easy. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about how two are better than one. It says, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” I feel that rings true when it comes to my personal devotion time. It is between God and I what I read, what I pray, and what He reveals to me; however, having someone on the outside asking me if I read today or asking what I read about helps me really think about the things I read and retain the information. Then, when I fall away and can no longer answer the questions, that person can help lead me back to where I need to be and help me pick up where I left off.
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ” Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; when one falls down, his friends can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”