So today is New Years Eve. We find ourselves on the doorstop of a new year, 2014 to be precise! As I hope many of you are, I am planning on reading through the Bible in 2014! I have no doubt that you have come across several blogs about differing Bible reading plans so I will not add to your heap of options. Instead I would like to offer a little suggestion for the way you approach your Bible reading in 2014, or perhaps I should say your mindset in reading the Bible in 2014.
Our culture's current views on reading focus heavily on retention. The argument goes something like this: "Unless you are retaining what you are reading then you are not getting the most out of it."
Now, I for one am all for retention. I think it is great if you can remember what you are reading and tell someone about it (Particularly if you are reading for school or some other purpose where testing/grades might come in to play). However, when it comes to Bible reading I believe there is something more important than retention. I believe that retaining what you read in the Bible does you very little good unless you have saturated yourself in the Bible first. My wish for you (and for me) this year is that you focus on saturating yourself in the Word of God rather than trying to retain everything you read.
When we read we are ultimately learning how to think like the author we are reading. That is why when you read good literature you might not be able to remember everything you have read but you have learned how to think like a really good author. This is also true for the Bible. When you read the Bible and saturate yourself in the full counsel of Biblical story you learn to think like the author of the Bible (God).
I remember many times, when I first began reading the Bible, I was obsessed with totally understanding & retaining everything that I read. I would buy commentaries and ultimately I would read about one chapter of the Bible a day at best. Then I would get discouraged & not finished what I started. The main reason for this discouragement, I believe, is that I had valued Biblical retention over Biblical saturation. Over the past couple of years I have decided to take a step back and read the Bible more like I would a newspaper. The best way to understand parts of the Bible is by understanding the whole of it. Biblical writers allude so much to the overall theme and story of the Bible and we help ourselves retain the Bible by first giving ourselves a fuller picture of the Biblical narrative.
So my advice to you as we approach 2014 is to steep yourself in the Bible. Read the book as it is meant to be read, as the story of redemption of mankind.
Also, if anyone is interested, here is the Bible reading plan I will personally be following. I am also going to read the King James Version of the Bible this year.
Food for thought!
Michael lives with his wife (Caroline) and dog (Beau) in Athens, GA where he teaches history and economics to high schoolers. Michael enjoys reading, watching soccer, drinking bourbon, and taking walks with his wife and dog.