Part 2 of a three-part series about reading through the Bible in a year. If you missed part 1, you can find it here.
In the read-through-the-Bible groups I’ve been part of, we read about three chapters a week, completing a whole book before moving on to another. The reading plan we followed (very similar to the one in my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year) alternated Old Testament and New Testament books, so we moved from Genesis to Matthew and back to Exodus, for example.
Alternating Old Testament and New Testament books means you’re not reading the Old Testament for nine months straight, which is what happens reading about three chapters a day. If you’re not very familiar with the Old Testament when you begin, three quarters of the year apent among the Israelites, judges, kings, and prophets can seem like a very long time.
Even better, alternating Old Testament and New Testament books means you start making connections between them sooner and more easily than you might if you read straight through.
Have you noticed how women, when we get together, like to talk? And have you also noticed how easy it is for a group of women to get off track?
Well, in our groups that almost never happened. Truth. We found so much to talk about from our reading each week that we rarely veered off topic.
Sometimes a woman came to group with a heavy heart and needed to share about her situation. We always made some time for that.
But otherwise, if we got off track, our leader would ask, “What does the passage we’ve been discussing teach us about God’s character?” and that was enough to refocus our conversation.
And we really were having conversation. If I brought up a verse that had stood out to me, someone else would comment. Maybe she shared my reaction to the verse, or maybe she saw something different in it. Someone else might have a question about the verse, and someone else might have been reminded of a passage we had read weeks earlier.
This easy, relaxed discussion is one of my favorite memories. Especially as time went on, I loved hearing the rustle of Bible pages as women turned to other passages they wanted to share that had some bearing on what we were discussing.
Sometimes the group fell silent. We were never afraid of this or embarrassed by it. We simply waited, or our leader might ask, “What else stood out?” Either way, the Holy Spirit soon nudged someone else to bring up something new to talk about.
A Caring Community
Maybe you’ve picked up that as we were getting to know God, we were also getting to know one another. Our groups developed wonderful community.
We always prayed together before each meeting ended. We didn’t simply share prayer needs with one another; we prayed conversationally about each request.
We celebrated new babies and mourned deaths. We feasted at Thanksgiving with an “Anything but Turkey” potluck and at Christmas with a dessert buffet. We prayed over women who were moving and had to leave the group.
After ten years of hosting a group in her home, the woman who issued that original invitation to read through the Bible moved out of state herself. She sent us all an email that said in part, “You have been the strength and encouragement and laughter and tears I have needed, so thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Curious? Think you might like to try reading through the whole Bible? Next week’s post features tips and encouragement to see you through.
Need some friends to do the read-through with? Join my new Facebook group, Women Reading Through the Bible in a Year. 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.
Be sure to watch for part 3 of this series next week: Tips and encouragement for reading through the Bible in a year.