The words burned into my laptop screen. Five minutes later, I couldn’t tell you if they were crazy or if I was, although I suspected it was the latter. Some things one does not investigate.
But seriously, read the whole Bible in 90 days? Why? How on earth would anyone get anything out of it reading at that clip?
I equated it to someone bolting their food without chewing. Just gulping down every bite. And isn’t the Bible supposed to be a gourmet meal? Meant to be savored in small, well-chewed bites?
So with that attitude, I did the only thing any rational person would do.
I signed up.
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Three months, twelve weeks, ninety days, 2160 hours—and about 90ish of those hours dedicated to reading and/or listening to it read to me.
Because, you see, I’ve learned something in my forty-eight years. If I don’t see value in something that others have learned from, I’m probably the one who needs to learn a lesson. I was ready to learn that lesson.
It Was the Best Thing I Did for My Spiritual Life in 2018
I don’t even remember how I found the challenge, but signing up to receive the free bookmark and encouraging emails began a journey that I thought would lead to superficial results.
Truth be told, I thought the knowledge that I’d gotten the annual Bible reading done early so I could focus on specific passages would be the only advantage. A few things stunned me.
First, I didn’t expect the push-back I got about it. Someone asked if I was using a Bible plan. I told her about the 90-day challenge. Seriously, you’d think that I’d told her I’d converted to paganism. Every argument that I’d made myself splattered across my chest, hurled with near derision.
That’s when I suspected I’d find unexpected rewards.
C’mon… why else would someone protest reading the Bible at all? After all, doesn’t God say in Isaiah 55:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Still, by most of the reactions I got when people found out what I was doing, you’d think I’d committed to three months of spiritual fasting at best.
I also didn’t expect it to be such an emotional experience.
We all know I’m not a very emotional person. So, when passages dumped heavy emotions until I felt crushed by the weight of them, well… I was surprised. So very surprised.
The weight of the law nearly crushed me. You’d think that reading slower would make it worse—that a quick read would mean you could skip over it or something. It didn’t work that way.
Reading so quickly showed layer after layer after layer of the law. If you have this kind of sin, you offer this. Unless you can’t afford it, then it’s that. But that kind of sin means this. The other means this other, but don’t forget a, b, and c—not to mention 1, 2, and 3.
Jesus didn’t just save us from an eternity in hell, folks. He saved us from a lifetime of trying to remember what the penalty for this morning’s sin is. From the frustration of trying to find an unsoiled dove, pigeon, or goat. Seriously, I’ve read those chapters a couple of dozen times in my life. I took Old Testament Survey in high school for heaven’s sake. Dozens of questions about every detail of the law.
I never saw it as clearly as I did reading through all of those chapters in a sitting.
Then there were the lengthy genealogy lists.
Look, I can’t be the only person who read through those lists with an eye to the major players and those names who could be circled as belonging to Jesus’ family tree. We all do it, right?
Rahab—the harlot. We like to remember her. And her son, Boaz—you know, the guy who married that Moabitess, Ruth? Then there was David…
I don’t think I’ve ever read any of those genealogy lists followed by several other chapters before—not on the same day. But when you do that, when you consume huge chunks of the Bible in one sitting, you make interesting connections. Those names come up, and you see them mentioned. And suddenly, they’re not just names anymore.
These were living, breathing, rejoicing, and grieving people just like the “big names.” Something I only really saw when I did that “silly” thing and read the Bible—fast.
I loved it so much that I almost turned around and did it again starting in April. No joke.
Then I decided to wait—for January.
You’d think it’d be because I needed more time, right? After all, I’m a busy gal. I don’t have time to read the Bible for an hour every day. I’ve got work to do. Lies to write.
There are just two problems with that notion.
- It didn’t take as much time as you’d think. I did a lot of listening instead of just reading. I listened while I did stretches—and in stretches. Ten minutes while I ate my lunch… fifteen before I took a nap. Twenty just before I started to write at night. I didn’t take notes—didn’t complicate it. I just read… or listened.
- Seriously? I don’t have time for God’s Word? My work is more important than His Word? A 2018 study showed that people waste over 21 hours a week. I don’t even need seven to read enough of the Bible to finish in 90 days. Just sayin’.
So, I did—decided I’d just wait for January.
Instead, I read the Word slower and deeper for the rest of the year. I mean, feasting is fun now and then, but can you imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner EVERY NIGHT OF EVERY WEEK OF EVERY YEAR?
Yeah, ugh. No thank you.
Look, everyone likes to binge-watch TV now and then, right? Still, there’s something thrilling about the anticipation of another episode. Well, I’ve enjoyed a lot of episodes—made it through ten or twelve books of the New Testament for the rest of 2018.
But I’ve been looking forward to January for another binge-fest infusion to my spiritual life.
And this year, I’ve decided to add a couple of things to my reading.
You see, our weekly Bible Study goes through the Journibles—where we write out each chapter of the Bible every week. I can’t tell you how much that has enriched my Bible time. Even if I don’t get to dig deeper one week, it doesn’t matter. I wrote that chapter.
I wrote ten to twelve chapters last year. Ten to twelve. Just sayin’. But we’re focusing on New Testament books first. I want some from the Old Testament, so I’m adding writing.
No, I’m not handwriting the Bible in 90 days. I do want to sleep, eat… sleep…
But I am going to do one verse—at least, anyway—per day. I hope to do one verse per chapter read that day. There’ll be a certain irony in it if I do per chapter, because the shorter the chapters, the more verses I’ll have to write.
Here’s the thing. There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. That’s 1189 verses if I do one per chapter. Thirteen per day. Even if I only do one per day, it’ll be beneficial. I suspect it’ll be a mixture of both—some days I’ll do one per chapter and other days I’ll just do one from the chapter. Maybe I’ll make it pretty. I like pretty now and then. 🙂
I also plan to post the day’s verses on Instagram. We’ll see how that goes.
Not only that, I hope to take notes to create a 90-day reading combination “devotional” (for lack of better word) and verse of the day coloring book. Because if I’m doing this every year (which I suspect I will), then I want tools to keep me thinking, meditating, growing during and after the challenge is over.
Have you ever read the Bible in 90 days?
I encourage you to try it. Join us. There are a whole bunch of us doing it. HERE is a link for you to find out more. I’d love to have you join us.
But that’s not all I’m doing in 2019.
Why? Because as I said in THIS POST, I still need help with prayer. So, I decided to add my friend, Alana Terry’s, Prevailing Prayer Bootcamp course. Look, I can’t tell you how great the course is yet. I haven’t done it. But I have looked it over, and it addresses exactly some of the things I know are issues for me.
Additionally, I’ve heard her Prevailing Prayer podcast and really was blessed by it.
So, when I found out about the prayer bootcamp, I was ALL OVER IT. Seriously. Totally stoked to start this thing.
As she describes it:
Smash Your Prayer Blocks Online Retreat
A go-at-your-own-pace online prayer retreat designed to equip you to identify and demolish the barriers standing between you and a deeper, more powerful prayer life!”
You see, I was working on my 2019 PowerSheets and knew that of all the things on the list that I could work on, my spiritual life was most important. So, I made this goal: Cultivate a deeper, richer spiritual life.
The 90-Day Bible Challenge and Smash Your Prayer Blocks are just two ways I plan to do that.
What are your plans for 2019 and how you plan to focus on your spiritual life?