It’s February. And even though I happen to be born in this month, I still will argue it is the worst month of the year. Where I live, in Missouri, it’s cold and dreary. There are few holidays on the horizon. We somehow are still recovering from that feeling that Christmas and New Year brought us. The hopes, dreams, and goals we set for ourselves at the coming of the 2023 are either still being practiced or maybe, you’ve given up on them.
One of these goals might have been reading the Bible in a year or simply reading the Bible each day. And perhaps you have decided that using a Bible reading plan is the best way to go. I am a firm believer in the use of Bible reading plans simply because they allow me to know what I am reading each day of the year rather than having to find passages to read on my own. While these reading plans are great, it can be extremely discouraging if you start a plan and fall a few days, or a week behind. This is especially challenging when you have decided to do a plan which requires four or more chapters of reading each day, like many “Bible-in-a-year” plans.
So what do you do when you fall behind? Some may decide to push themselves and read everything they have missed in a day or two. This is noble, but still very challenging to many who are new and even those who have read their Bibles for years. Many may be tempted to give up, thinking that there is no reason to continue. I hope to offer my advice and just maybe someone will be helped by it.
- 1. God is not disappointed you fell behind in your Bible reading plan.
For those of us who feel the guilt of not finishing a Bible reading plan or even the guilt of falling behind (that’s me), it may be helpful for you to understand that God does not love you less or think of you less because of your failure to read His Word. He is not staring down with fiery disdain because you stumbled a bit when you got to Leviticus or Chronicles (shudder). Instead, the Lord only desires that you desire Him. He has witnessed my lackluster prayer life for years and yet He still loves when I pray to Him. In the same way, He longs for you to know Him as you read His Word. He wants you to discover more of Him, not to push you out because of the challenge of reading the Bible.
- 2. Continue to for content and clarity, not to complete your plan on time.
As I wrote above, the tendency for some when they fall behind will be to read everything they have missed in one or two days. I think this is very ambitious and I would not fault anyone for trying. But, we must remember why we are reading the Bible. It is the access we have to the very thoughts of God. It the “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) words of the Living God. This is not the textbook you skimmed in high school or college to get through. The real question you must ask yourself is did I understand something more about the character of God when I read? Did I understand something more about how I should live obediently? Do I love Christ more because of what I read? Many times you will be able to answer one or all of these questions. But, if you finish your plan on time and can’t answer any of these questions, was it really worth it?
- 3. Bible reading will profit and bless you even if you don’t finish your plan on time.
Returning to the verse I listed above, 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” I believe that is true whether you made it through all of your Bible reading plan or half of your Bible reading plan. I believe this is true because these are God’s very words. I believe this is true because God wants you to know Him more intimately. But ultimately, I believe this is true because I believe that God will keep His promises. He is faithful, even when we are not.
- 4. Try listening to the Bible rather than reading it.
There are days when I simply have a harder time finding the time to sit down and read God’s Word than others. For those day, I am glad there are many apps that will read the Bible to me. YouVersion has a great read along feature as well as Dwell Bible. There are others, but those two are my favorite. Is there a guarantee that I will gather more from listening to it, that reading it? Probably not. But again I trust God to use His Word, even the hearing of His Word. We need to remember that much of the New Testament epistles would have been heard from the elders of the churches. If God was willing to use the hearing of His Word then, certainly He can use it today.
- 5. Challenge yourself – You are capable of doing it!
I think many of us start the year off believing we can’t read through the Bible in a year or two, but we start the plan anyway. When we get behind, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. But what if we had the mindset that God is using every word in His Word to change us further into His image? What if we believed that God has equipped us in such as way that we can read through His Word in a year? What if we found out that God was going to use this year of Bible reading for the advancement of His Kingdom in tangible ways in your life and in the lives of others? Would you push through the discouragement? I hope you would! Because you can do it! Pray that God would give you the resilience to push deeper.
Bible reading plans are challenging! It’s easy to get discouraged when you fall behind. But don’t let that stop you because God will use His Word in your life. He has promised it! He wants you to push forward! He wants you to know Him! He wants to feed you through His Word! So continue on. You will be glad you did!