I’ve owned Bibles. I’ve referenced them when a pastor had us turn to a particular passage. They’ve been a resource for Bible studies and academia. They’ve been read to me. I’ve read various passages and have studied individual books. But truth be told, despite this familiarity and these still purposeful interactions and exposures, I’ve never read through the whole Bible for myself. Can you relate?
Maybe, similarly to me, you feel the nudge to read through the Bible. You sense there is something to be gained and that your life needs this regular connection. You’re curious, skeptical, nervous, and eager all at the same time. Perhaps you don’t know how or where to begin. Or don’t think you have time. Maybe you started this once before, but need to pick it up again. You long for a deeper and closer connection with God and have prayers and hopes to take your faith and relationship with Him to a new level. You desire to get back to a simple faith, having been bombarded with life’s challenges and demands. You know your life roles and layers need help and an anchor.
You want to rekindle your first love. You want to know Him directly through His word instead of solely relying on books, pastors, and podcasts. You don’t want to witness this only through others; you want it – for you. You see this as an investment and are open to what God has in store.
You long to be like the children of the Bible and sit at His feet, get to know Him more, and receive what He longs to give and show you, and to be changed.
Even though this post won’t capture the magnitude of all that has transpired for me reading through the Bible for the first time, I’m eager to share an overview to hopefully encourage you to take on that adventurous step. Move that tug into motion. See what a little daily, achievable time in the Bible can do for your life. I’ll share some of what this looked like for me, challenges I faced, and growth and lessons experienced. This journey, combined with areas of prayer and worship, that I’ve also written about, has built upon the foundation of my past and launched my faith and relationship with God to new levels.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect or what would be in store, but I was incredibly open and my goal was pretty simple: I wanted to get to know God’s heart and let Him change and grow mine. Little did I know what great life-altering impact would be in store. I knew I needed this. I wanted it. As a believer, who has placed her faith and belief in Jesus, yet who has never read through the Bible, I felt increasingly convicted. I figured I’d encounter some hard stuff to understand and challenging to get through. I also knew that while I enjoyed theology and apologetics, my closeness with God was lacking. Admittedly, there were areas of my life that needed change that theology, apologetics, and knowledge in themselves weren’t changing. I needed and wanted a person.
Knowledge in itself doesn’t automatically translate as intimacy or transformation.
I’m sure you’ve heard and read that reading the Bible is one way to allow God to speak to you directly. But really? Yes, really. And me? Yes, you. One of my prayer requests has been to be able to recognize God’s voice through all the noise. I longed for this so I could better engage with and navigate all those other voices. While this isn’t a one-and-done event, rather cultivated and used over time, what better way to develop this area than to let Him talk to me through His pages?
As you can see, I wanted to go more personal, deeper, and walk in His steps. As faith in Jesus is an individual decision, I equally can’t just ride along in the backseat of other people’s faith, but need to engage and build up mine. Simplifying things and being present were huge needs of my heart – hence my children reference of sitting at his feet. I didn’t want just more spiritual knowledge for mere knowledge sake or regurgitated purposes, but to have His heart be reflected in mine. I’ve made time for plenty of life activities, various reading and research, and investments in my health or career. Could I not, then, make time to invest in spirit care and build up my spiritual core? If so, what would happen to all those other beloved areas of my life? Well, now that I’ve shed some light on what led me into this journey, let’s get into what this actually looked like for me.
Getting out of our own head and into God’s word is always a right answer.
What It Looked Like
I chose to share this journey with a few people for accountability and I looked forward to reflecting along the way. I wanted to use a guide that could be easily followed and checked off daily, especially since my original goal was to read the Bible in one year. (That part didn’t happen. More on that later.) There are lots of tools and timelines, but I settled on this simple guide since it had daily Old Testament and New Testament readings. I also liked it because it wasn’t large doses, but enough to chew on daily. I didn’t want to overcomplicate it, making it more about the guide than the Bible. Even more, I didn’t want to get entangled in endless tips and suggestions and not actually start reading. The important thing was the desire was there and God is after our heart.
“…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Tucked conveniently in my Bible, it was rewarding checking off a day’s reading and noting the progress. I thoroughly enjoyed pairing Bible reading with morning coffee. I opted to start my day with this because if I waited, it may not get accomplished as the day got going. That connection with God in the morning also lingered and helped set the tone for the rest of my day. Evening is also beneficial for a routine wrapping up the day and transitioning into sleep. Any time with God is time with God. My daily reads varied, but normally it would take around 10-15 mins. Some readings were longer, which meant sometimes I’d finish it later that day or it rolled into the next day. Although the guide was great and this discipline was cultivating more than I could have imagined, the challenges were there, too.
“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
My original goal was to read through the Bible in a year. I didn’t achieve that, so it was disappointing letting that go and not giving up just because I wasn’t on track. Yet, that didn’t loom for long as I began to see that the overall connection was overshadowing days missed. I also noticed the difference throughout my day compared to non-missed days. Just investing the time to see out this lengthy goal took effort.
Another challenge pertained to a guide I previously started using that had me in a different spot of the Bible each day of the week. It wasn’t helpful this first time through the Bible. I felt all over the place, making it hard to keep track and stay connected to the book I was reading. For example, I may be reading in Genesis on Monday, but not back to it until the following Monday. I stopped using that guide and went with the other simple one.
The enemy is always a challenge. He’s eager and thrilled to try to keep people from God and the things of God however that form takes for us. While that’s no surprise, since that’s his goal during his temporary rule over this earth, it can be extremely overwhelming feeling and experiencing that reality personally. Steal, kill, and destroy is his mission. Suffice it to say, he was very active during my reading coming via battles with distractions, feelings of worth and significance, and trust in God – to name a few. Through these challenges, however, I started learning how to better combat and address him by arming myself with truth and promises. While far from fun, it’s proof he’s afraid and didn’t like me drawing close to and choosing God. He didn’t like what was happening and what was ahead.
I encountered lots of parts of the Bible I didn’t understand. That can make you ponder if you should go on or make you question yourself. But it’s pretty incredible when you level and are honest with your feelings and thoughts, that God already knows anyway, and see Him move in and meet you in those moments with love and grace. While some of it can be indeed mind-boggling in our human frame, that illuminates the difference between God and man and the mystery of Scripture. If I knew it all, what would my faith look like anyway? Would I be just as reliant on God or be further inclined to bend to my innate self-sufficiency? I will receive and understand whatever God would have me to understand and when I should understand it.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of his law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
A, perhaps obvious, final big challenge was all the distractions that would hit: Fatigue, phone notifications, tasks calling for you around the house, etc. My mind would drift and lose focus. As I keep learning, it’s an imperfect ride and I can ask God for help. I can make small changes like turning my phone to silent or putting it in another room. Reading through the Bible had its challenges, but I also gained from them, just as I did through these series of growth and lessons I’ll share next.
Growth and Lessons
He healed my heart and gave me fullness, joy, and contentment.
Over time, I continue to see God’s desire to give more than just what I want, but what I need. As I get more acquainted with His heart, it magnified the difference between knowing God’s word and acting on it. This shows up in areas like knowing about forgiveness and truly forgiving people or being able to recite the fruit of the spirit and actually bearing it in life.
When life happens, sometimes the last place my tender heart wants to go is to the Bible or the last person I want to talk to is Jesus. It’s difficult going against what we want and trusting in what and who we need despite how we feel or may not understand. Pressing into that struggle, being real with God with streaming tears and overflowing frustration, I’ve been met with startling peace and love.
Seeing Jesus move in and mend my heart and give me the conviction and strength to forgive people, just as He freely did, not only allows me to get to know my Lord but also delivers incredible freedom. It gave me the opportunity to see what He is capable of, experience the goodness of acting on His words, and therefore creating incredible trust and less fear going into my future.
Through pain and struggle, I’m struck with having to face the reality and truth of passages, not just the words of passages. One example of this is, “The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1). Can God be enough when I don’t have what I want or can’t make sense of what is going on now? Can I hold on to passages and they be truly sustaining? Although sometimes a sacrifice of praise to get there, experiencing the “Yes” to those questions is most difficult and stretching, but a definite power shifter in personal faith. Test of faith builds intimate faith.
It showed that struggles in areas like anxiety, worry, and stress need more than just good lifestyle choices and self-care, but good spirit-care.
Our lifestyle choices indeed make a world of difference (for better or for worse), but lifestyle isn’t the whole picture. It can’t fulfill and do what Jesus can: renew from the inside out. I can get so fixated on myself that I lose focus on the needs of others around me and it can also crowd out time with God. Going through the Bible is one good spirit-care measure. It allows Him to wrestle with what’s going on instead of just masking or numbing it. Giving of myself instead of just to myself allows me to better manage and harness those challenges. Additionally, it provides a contrast between peace I try to craft on my own versus a God-given one. He doesn’t miss a thing, yet still loves me. He’s given fresh starts that I don’t deserve.
It proved that seeds and the watering matter and the harvest is created over time.
Isn’t it our tendency to want the harvest now, but without the watering or the seeds? Since we can’t see the future, it’s hard to see the value of the here and now. We don’t see the change or benefits on our timetable or based on own expectations, so we give up or turn away. I’m not really capturing anything phenomenal in this moment reading through Scripture, so what’s the point, we wonder. Over time I began to experience how this connection builds a storehouse to be drawn off of over time. Situations or decisions would surface down the road and parts of Scripture would come to mind or I had a surprisingly different response or an unusual strength or peace when I would normally become unraveled. Reading through the Bible opened my understanding of supplemental resources as well. Faith isn’t a sprint, but a marathon and generally not instantaneous, but incremental.
It realigned priorities, values, and desires which impacted life choices and outcomes.
So often I’ve sought clarity and answers, but at the expense of personal connection with God. I’ve made decisions or continued to prioritize myself or what I wanted or thought was best or right. I gave more weight to listening to others, or let earthly things guide me, but not act on what God would have me to do.
Being in His word, more and more, I slowly started to find that consistent connection with God brings clarity. Clarity slowly transforms my thinking, changing the way I act, and therefore changing the course of my life. This grew and made other areas of my life better. But not always easier. It wasn’t easy to make things right when I wasn’t living right, ask for forgiveness, and take risks and step away to hear from God. This can also look counterculture, be unpopular, or not readily received well by others. The surge of return is well worth it though. It removes bondage (when I may think I was doing myself a favor), allows me to experience peace and trust in Him, and live a life of freedom. I’ve seen time and time again that God doesn’t just want to answer prayer requests, but to groom me in the process.
It prepared me to do hard things and decline distractions.
It softened areas of my heart that were calloused or lukewarm, which enabled me to see that repentance, obedience, and surrender positions you into freedom, favor, and blessing. That doesn’t imply everything is perfectly better and pretty, but it does adjust our alignment. Not every opportunity is beneficial or helpful, but could actually be distractions that stall or derail and sometimes a ‘no’ is our best ‘yes’.
It helped settle and convict me in the things God is clear about versus what I may not fully understand.
All life and spiritual questions didn’t go away or get addressed, but this did elevate hope, faith, and belief through the wrestle. God’s ways are higher than ours and His thoughts higher than our thoughts, so that makes a case for surrendering I will not understand everything. However, this doesn’t diminish the reality of God and my need for Him. It’s actually increases it. When all else fails and there’s no where else to turn, I face the question, if not God, then what or who? And how is that working out for me? I desire to keep learning and growing, honing in on what God is clear about. It’s incredibly easy to make big theology out of grey areas. God is pretty clear about the things He chooses to be clear about. A great example of this is God’s command to love God and love people – That’s plenty of theology to chew on and gauge my life against.
It built up a strong desire for others to see His goodness on display and to know Him personally.
Unfortunately that too often competes with self-glory and self-promotion. It doesn’t stop with me. Seeing the goodness of God in my life allows me the opportunity to shed that back to God, giving others hope and wanting the same for their lives. Experiencing God makes me want others to have such hope, love, freedom, peace, and joy.
It served as a filter.
Time in the Bible not only served as a filter from this world, but also from myself. I tend to rush into situations and take control. I’m learning to pause by going to God first which may change how, when, or even if I say or do something. I may have the wrong perspective or motives. I can’t lead myself by myself and I’m not wise in my own eyes. There’s too much raging selfishness and pride on my own. It’s pretty neat to see how God simultaneously moves within your heart and mind while reading through the Bible. It may have nothing to do with what I was directly reading, but He addresses what is needed nonetheless. Our dimensional life needs a woven in faith. I can’t wait and hope for my mind and heart to be filled with what it needs. I need to actively fill it.
It helped me combat and counter lies and the enemy’s attack with truth and promises.
I think sometimes we are so used to living under stress, worry, and lies that we just take it. This isn’t new either. The first battle and temptation began in the Garden of Eden and even Jesus himself was tempted by the adversary. I’m finding it takes effort to defend our rights as Christians and state promises and truth over our life, identity, and situation. This is most definitely a work in progress and it honestly feels a bit awkward when you first start.
One significant moment this took place was while I was getting ready for church one morning. I was in a season of having gone through a series of big and hard decisions to both make certain areas right with God and to pursue Him more intently. I also surrendered desires and dreams as well as a relationship and was trying to press in and trust God.
That particular Sunday morning I was struck with an intense and emotional attack sending tears streaming down my face almost having me miss church. My mind and heart was being overrun with statements like, “You think it’s really that simple that you can just trust in God?”, “All is wasted”, and “Nothing good will ever come for you.” It was very discouraging and overwhelming to say the least.
In that same moment, I was probed: “Brittinni, what have you learned in moments like this?” So I turned on a favorite Christian Pandora station rekindling past lessons about worship. Everything shifted. Those statements were overturned by, “Don’t you remember your goal with me?” I said, “Yes, my goal and prayer request was to better know and listen to the sound of your voice.” That followed with, “All is not wasted. Your goal has been achieved. You not only heard my voice, but you acted on it, and chose me over what you wanted and that relationship you wanted. You let go and chose to trust me.” Tears were still streaming down my face, but now in a good way.
That morning was so powerful. It demonstrated the reality of two opposing powers: The Lord and the enemy. It also made me reflect on this question: What will be there and what will I draw off of in times of need?
It taught me it’s a necessary life-long spiritual discipline to cultivate our faith.
I don’t just wake up with faith. It has to be activated, applied, and used. By doing so, I’m seeing it establishes a history with God to draw off of for new seasons of life that I wouldn’t have if the discipline was never created. It creates the lessons and growth that prepares me for new upcoming seasons. It works within those gaps of faith and doubt when it’s easy to simply fill it in with my own narrative. We have the opportunity to involve God versus doing our own thing. We have the opportunity to give Him a chance to show up on our behalf by choosing to connect with Him and seeing the ripple effects and outcomes that has in our life. It grooms our patience and trust to wait on God and His timing.
It addressed my identity.
What I’ve done does not equate to who I am or whose I am. He forgives and loves me just the same. I am called. I am forgiven. I am chosen. I am loved. I am His child. I am worthy. I serve a redeeming God who can and wants to make all things new. I want to live out His purpose for my life and how He designed me instead of feeling like I need to look like everyone else or take a path that is not for me. My personality, talents, and traits have been designed by a good and loving Father.
It brought freshness.
Originally, I felt distant from an obscure and confusing Old Testament book, but closeness set in as I was gifted a life truth takeaway. In I and II Kings, there is an ongoing flux of faithful and unfaithful kings rising up and falling away. Reading through those books can be a bit tedious and makes you wonder its personal application. Then my eyes and heart were opened to a big overarching takeaway: To maintain a tender heart before God in season and out of season, in hardship and blessing. I don’t want to forget God because things are going good. I don’t want to forget what He has done when things are getting hard. I want to protect and maintain the closeness we are cultivating. I’m grateful for that one huge nugget from those books.
Freshness also birthed a simple love with God, slowing down, and capturing beauty and simplicity.
It shifted in how and what I prayed.
It is refreshing and surprising to see my attitude and stance shift even after 10 minutes of reading. I have a tendency to be persuasively persistent, but not powerfully prayerful. When you ask God to help you focus on what’s within your realm of control, but allow Him to do the heavy lifting, it seems like you’re doing something wrong. It seems like you are not doing enough. That was the point. I needed to get used to something different. Not taking the reins, trying to do it all in my strength, but partner with God and rely on His strength and oversight. Another prayer point is there’s no way we can unpack everything during a single moment; that’s why prayer is ongoing communication. At any point of any day, we have access to a God who wants to hear from us.
It awoke the power of the Holy Spirit.
It heightened my understanding of the Holy Spirit that’s right there within a believer to give aid, power, and strength. Like power mode for a sports car and wind for sails of a boat, the Holy Spirit is there ready to be called upon. We have all the necessary ingredients within us to live out our faith. We just need to stir it up. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He left us help through His Holy Spirit for our time on this earth.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with gleanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”(Romans 8: 26-27 )
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
I’m thankful to have finally read through the whole Bible and for those ongoing lessons and building blocks for my faith and life. The Bible has become a much closer companion. I hope this spurs you on to your own reading journey.
God has a plan and purpose for your start. My encouragement to you is to begin. Talk to God about your desires. Ask Him to walk you through it. Share with Him your questions and struggles. Expect Him to move, teach, and change. Thank Him for what He does and shows along the way. Notice how it spills over into other areas of your life. Be open to what God has in mind. Be after His heart. Be real with Him. Invite Him into those hard areas. Ask God that your mind and heart to be what He would have it to be. Apply what you are learning and take risks of faith along the way. Open it especially when you don’t feel like it.
If you’ve read through the Bible before or are doing so now, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’re learning. Please share below!
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joins and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).