Last weekend I got to share with the women of First Christian Church of Washington, Missouri, about the value and blessings of reading through the Bible in a year. Over the next three weeks, I’m posting some of those thoughts here.
Sometime around Christmas 1999, I received the best Christmas gift I have ever received—an invitation to join with other women to read through the Bible in a year.
When I saw the announcement in our church paper, I knew immediately I would go. I’m not a joiner, so to feel this assurance wasn’t like me, but it was real. For several years I had been searching for a way to connect with God, and somehow I knew I needed to join this new group.
That first Monday night of January 2000, the night the group began, a raging thunderstorm hit just before I needed to leave my house to make the 20-minute drive.
Great. I wasn’t familiar with where I would be driving and now there was thunder, lightning, and sheets of rain.
My husband suggested I might want to stay home, just wait until the next week to join the group.
No, I told him. I was going. I had to go.
So I drove through the storm to an unfamiliar neighborhood, parked on the street and ran up to the front door.
Inside was all warmth and light and hot cocoa and coffee and welcoming faces, and I knew I was right where I needed to be.
That invitation in the church paper truly changed my life—and at the time I didn’t realize just how much needed changing! So many blessings have flowed from that invitation. The original group grew and started two additional groups and continued strong for a dozen years.
Eventually I developed my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year to offer others the same invitation to read all of God’s Word.
If you want to get into God’s Word like you never have before, you can! He put it together for you, and He wants you to read it.
You—yes, you!—can definitely accomplish reading the whole Bible in a year … and most likely want to do it all over again.
Getting to Know God
At that first Monday night meeting I attended, our leader introduced things by saying, “We’re here to get to know God by reading through the Bible in a year. We’ll read about three chapters a day and meet each week to discuss what we’ve read.”
And that’s what we did. By reading the whole Bible that year and talking about our insights, questions, and the verses that stood out to us, each of us began to see and know God in ways we never had before.
This was more than simply knowing things about God. We were getting to know God better the way you get to know a friend better when she shares her heart with you.
We didn’t read to answer homework questions. We didn’t have any study books on specific topics. Not that those are bad things; there’s definitely a place for in-depth study of Bible books and topics.
But our plan was to simply read the whole Bible. We read about three chapters every day and got together on Monday nights to talk about what we had read. Someone opened with prayer and then our leader always asked, “So, what stood out for you this week?”
That question was never met with silence. Someone always had come across a meaningful verse, a new idea, a question, or something that bothered her. And I will tell you that in the first few years, especially, most of us had a lot of questions and a number of things that bothered us.
I had been a believer for nearly three decades, but I had never read a lot of the Old Testament before. Many of the other women hadn’t either. So we wondered, for example, why God went with the big flood, what on earth all the weird rules in Leviticus had to do with anything, and why God told the Israelites to kill all the pagan peoples living in the Promised Land.
We didn’t just wonder about things like this; we didn’t like them very much!
But as we kept reading and talking and taking in the whole story of the Bible, these puzzling events began to make sense. We began to see what God was doing through them. And even more important, we began to see and understand God’s character, His heart.
You know, we hear a lot about God’s love, and we like to talk about that. But as the women in my group read through the Bible, we began to see that God also is all-powerful, and sovereign, and holy, and just, and good. We began to trust Him more, because we could see that He is a promise-keeping God—and His Word is full of promises!
What Women Say
I’ve asked women who’ve participated in a read-through group to tell me about their experience. Here are just a few of the responses:
“I’m able to see how things fall into place. The change in me is trusting God for everything.” —Iona
“I wish I’d done this twenty years ago. It has given me a better understanding of myself.” —Jan
“I had tried to read the Bible before. Incest, murder, lying, deception. Who were these people? Now I see it’s all a part of sin. I’ve read through the Bible five or six times. Without a group, I never would have read the Bible or appreciated it like I do now.” —Bev
Curious? Think you might like to try reading through the whole Bible? Parts 2 and 3 of this series will tell you more. Watch for them next week.
Need some friends to do the read-through with? Join my new Facebook group, Women Reading through the Bible. I’ll be posting the weekly reading plan from A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year on that group page every Monday morning beginning January 1. The group is also a place where you can comment or ask questions about each week’s readings.
December 13, Part 2: Talking with a group about what you’ve read
December 20, Part 3: Tips for reading through the Bible in a year