The New Year is upon us and it’s time to make resolutions. Whether it’s exercise, diet, kicking a bad habit, or a host of other things, I am of the persuasion that resolutions and goals are fundamental to growth in any area of life.
As Christians, one of the best resolutions you can make is to read more of God’s word. That’s why many of you are planning to read through the Bible in 2013. If you need a plan, you can find several here. But before you set out to read through the Bible this year, let me warn you of two dangers.
- Going wide without going deep. Most yearly plans require about 4 chapters a day. If you’re like me, you’re doing well to just make it through the daily readings, let alone meditate deeply and pray. And if you’re not careful, you’ll cave into that voice in your head telling you that it’s more important finish all your readings than to connect with God. So you’ll spend 2013 going wide without going deep. My advice? Tell the voice to shut up!
- Going deep without going wide. Some people reject reading plans altogether, preferring rather to meditate deeply and pray over what they read. The benefits of this approach are obvious. You are regularly connecting on an intimate level with the Lord and nourishing your soul. The major drawback, however, is that over a lifetime you end up not having a strong grasp of the breadth of Scripture.
I have struggled for years trying to find the right balance. So how do you do both? How do you go deep and wide in your Bible reading this year? In my opinion you must give yourself permission to do 2 things:
FIRST: READ LESS AND MEDITATE MORE
I would suggest that you do this during your regular devotion times. You have to give yourself permission to read less during these times so you can slow down, think, meditate, and pray about what the Lord is showing you. This time is about communion, not making it through the plan. If you use a plan that breaks the readings in 4 sections (2 OT and 2 NT), then you can easily pick just one of the NT readings to read slowly and prayerfully. Or you could try this plan designed for slow, prayerful reading.
SECOND: READ MORE AND MEDITATE LESS
Since you have only read a small portion during your devotional times, you have to find a way to make up the ground. And during these times you must give yourself permission to read more and meditate less. The goal here is broad exposure, not deep communion. You can make up ground in several ways. You could listen to an audio Bible on your commute to work, chip away at it during your lunch break, or simply schedule one or two times a week to read large sections of the Bible at a brisk pace. Whatever works for you.
So go for it. Give yourself permission to read less and to read more, and go deep and wide in your Bible reading in 2013.
Have you found helpful ways to go deep and wide in your own life?