Monday, August 29, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: We did it!

Everyone in our house who was doing The Bible in 90 Days has officially finished the program, and thus, the Bible! I finished last Thursday. Rehm and Michale finished last Friday.

I can not believe I can now say that I have read the entire Bible. Honestly, this is something I never expected to accomplish.

Why was I successful? I think there are three reasons. I had accountability at home, among my friends and in my church community. I had a plan. I had a short term commitment.

Participating with family members was great because it added daily motivation to stay current. I won't say we were competitive or ever kept score with where we each were, but getting behind my family members always motivated me to catch up and persevere when reading got difficult, monotonous or boring.

Having my son, who is ten, reading really motivated me. We did not approach him about doing this. It was completely his idea. We did not nag or incentivize him to read. He was completely responsible for finding time to read and staying on schedule. What good excuse could I possibly have to not read if my ten year old could do it? I mean, seriously, he's ten!

Having friends and my church community reading helped reinforce my commitment. I can not tell you how many of my conversations in the last three months have been about what the Bible actually says. It was awesome because we were all in basically the same place in our reading at the same time. If I found a story, chapter, or book interesting, perplexing, or disturbing I had plenty of people I could discuss the topic with.

Every Sunday, I got to hear a sermon about something I had just read. This was great for two reasons. It made me really want to go to church each week to see what the minister had chosen to focus on out of that week's reading. And, it made me want to stay on schedule so the each week's sermon would coincide with my reading. The sermon series was excellent.

I had a nice book mark that told me exactly what I needed to read each day. And, it had a nice little check box to check off when I finished each day. It was so easy to see my progress. I had a daily email encouraging me in my reading, and giving me a key verse for the day. I had a weekly discussion with others and DVD series to summarize the key points of the week. I didn't have to figure out what to read when, it was all perfectly laid out for me.

The length of this program was perfect. I was not committing to doing something every day for the next year or five years. I was only committing to three months. That seemed very doable. OK, at first, looking at the size of the Bible and how thin the pages are and how small the print is, it didn't seem doable. At that point it seemed very daunting and crazy! I promptly downloaded the Bible on my Kindle so I didn't have to see just how big the Bible really is. After a few days of reading and learning I could stay on plan, knowing I only had to do this for three months was kind of nice.

Reading the Bible in such a short time period really makes you read in a different way and makes different things stand out. You don't have time to deeply ponder each verse, or look up an unfamiliar unit of measure equivalent, or who a person is, thus you see the "big picture" of the Bible. Also, reading this quickly allows you to relate things that happen hundreds of pages apart together because it is all still fresh in your mind.

When you study an individual book of the Bible, you get to really dig in. You can study the time period, the historical context, read what the scholars have to say, etc. But you don't get to see first hand how that book relates to the rest of the Bible. Reading this quickly, you see much more clearly how it all fits together. It is kind of like reading a really great epic novel.

Now that I'm done, I'd like to go back and have a closer look at Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Romans. Job, I would probably just like to read a second time at a slower pace. Ecclesiastes, I would like to read again and then maybe again or maybe at that point do a Bible study - I think I need to read it again to decide what I want to do with it, but I really liked it. Proverbs, I would like to read regularly a chapter a day for a month and repeat for a few months. Romans, I would like to do a year long inductive Bible study.

After the follow up, I might just want to do The Bible in 90 Days again and see what stands out, as I'm sure it would be completely different things than this time.

I highly recommend this reading plan to everyone. I think the key to success is doing this with others, whether it is a friend, spouse, small group, congregation, or all of these. The community accountability and bonding were essential for me.

I hope next summer our church finds another church-wide study to do. I loved, loved, loved doing something with my family, small group and church community all at once. It was an amazing experience.


My other posts on this experience can be found here.

1 comment:

Amy@ MomsToolbox said...

I am so excited for you, your family and church for participating in the Bible in 90 Days program... as you know, it is absolutely amazing and definitely changes you!

I am definitely addicted! :)