The Near Year has started and already it is rushing to a close. At the start of the year, I promised the Lord to do what He commanded and read the Bible in a year. At first I felt intimidated by the mammoth task. Would I remember anything I read? Would I finish the task?
This was not my first attempt. It was actually my third attempt. The rhythm was always the same. I started enthusiastically with a plan. I encouraged myself and took off running. After a few weeks, I got sidetracked. The enthusiasm waned.
Something has to be done. I am restarting the project. This time I was determined to get it right. Flashback of my preparation for my first 5 kilometers (5K) race came to mind. I was overweight and unhealthy then. I knew what I was working with and boy did I work it. I started slowly and only walked 400 meters. My friends wanted to run like horses around the track. Not me! I was having none of it. I experience two separate cases of severe muscle strain from Karate and gym exercises in the past because my instructors wanted to test my limit. It left me with a handicapped walk for weeks on each occasion. I was not having it ever again.
No swift running for me. I deliberately built my muscles slowly. I walked 3-4 evenings, at a snail’s pace, for 2 hours. Each time, my body got comfortable with the distance and speed. I increased it. In a few months I was running 5 Kilometers (5K) without panting. I was thoroughly enjoying the process. The following year, I participated in three 5K races.
Reading the Bible in a year is very much like running the 5K race. It must be started slowly but deliberately.
On Your Mark. Get Set. Go!
This is my approach to meeting my target:
- Every day 6-10 chapters or a book in the Bible, is read.
- Reading is done after prayer.
- The chapter is re-read 4-5 times. The first reading is done swiftly but after each reading more is understood. A note is made of verses that speak to my heart. On the 5th or last reading, these verses are underlined.
- Words that are not understood are underlined and reviewed with a Bible dictionary.
The exercise is not only about reading the Bible. I am also training my brain to focus and remember what is read. I tackle this, by actively working to build my repository of memorized verses. Each week, 1-4 verses are memorized, by taking these steps:
- The verse(s) are chosen and a topic created. The topic is written at the top of an index card or in a book each week.
- The verse is written on the index card. It is double-checked to ensure that it is correctly written.
- The verse is read out loud for 10-20 minutes. For the first 1-2 days the verse(s) are only read. On the remaining days only 1 or 2 words are focused on. Also read over the entire verse.
- People learn in different ways. If you learn best by doing, write out the verse several times or use it to create a poem, song, etc. If you learn by hearing, read or speak it aloud to yourself or someone repeatedly. If you learn by seeing, create a picture of the verse in your mind. A combination of all three approaches is recommended. This is meditation as recommended by the Bible (Joshua 1:7-8; Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
- Each week use 1 or 2 days to re-read the cards you previously memorised.
Memorising the verse may be done while getting ready for work. While driving to work or whenever you are doing a repetitive task that does not require lots of focus.
At the end of the year 52 verses will be known. Think how much will be known in 5, 10, or more years!
Finishing the Race
I find that reading the Bible and memorising the verse(s) is rewiring my brain.
- The brain is better able to remember what is read, permanently.
- My reading speed is increasing and my vocabulary is expanding.
- Studying is easier, as my mind is stimulated to quickly learn.
- Most importantly, I can hear the voice of the Lord much better. I am also empowered to confirm what He says with the scriptures.
- It makes me a more competent witness to others.
- It keeps my mind at peace all day, because my focus is on Jesus. (Isaiah 26:3, You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.)
- I can apply the Word of God to my life. Thoughts, ideas and visions for work are coming alive.
- It is transforming my ability to handle difficult situations and people. This encourages me to continue in the Word of God.
Collecting the Medal
Reading the Bible frees our minds. It moves us towards our full potential in ALL aspects of our lives. It empowers us to overcome our everyday problems. Ultimately, it transforms us into victorious soldiers for Christ. Our victory is shown in our walk, in our talk, in our approach to work, in the home; in every facet of our lives.
Happy journey! See you at the finish line.