I tucked the Bible reading plan in the cover of my Bible and went on my way. I've done this many times always with the best intentions to complete the enormous goal of getting through the Bible in a certain amount of time.
It's not a bad thing to set a goal of reading God's Word and making strides toward the finish line, but there's something more important than goal setting that I am learning. Reading through God's Word to meet a goal keeps me slave to a piece a paper rather than the person of God. I am learning to listen to God's voice as I read, rather than push through with my own agenda in mind. God's voice is not audible to me, although that would be amazing! It's a still, small prompting in my heart that says something like this:
"Hold onto to this."
"Cling to Me."
"Look to Me."
"I am in control."
I could excuse away the voice inside and plow through the pages, but I'm learning the more I listen, the more I learn. The more I lean into God's voice, the more wisdom He reveals to me.
There is nothing wrong with zooming through a Bible reading schedule because we know God's Word does not return void, but I'm learning that when I listen to God's prompting as I read rather than being a slave to a box to check off, I see new things, I hear fresh truth, and I glean golden nuggets of wisdom regularly.
When I let those things that God is teaching me seep into my heart and press hard into my soul by meditating on the Words of God, I gain a new perspective of the Scriptures. No longer is reading the Bible a thing I need to do to check off of my list for the day, but reading the Word becomes a joyful part of my day that I can't go on without.
It's not that I never plow through a chapter or ten, or slip up and miss a day of reading, but it's that I'm learning to live sensitive to the voice of God. When He says plow, I plow. When He says, slow down, I slow down. When He says, read it again, I read it again.
That might mean four chapters, one chapter, or even one verse over and over. Last year I spent almost eight weeks in Psalm 23. You might be able to quote it and I can too, but the truths God taught me as I walked through that passage word for word, day after day, is a priceless treasure I will cling to for the rest of my life.
If I don't listen, I don't hear God speak. I must quiet everything else in my life and get alone, completely alone with God and reveal my heart to Him. That's when I hear Him loud and clear through verses I've read over and over and through verses that seem completely new to me.
There's something beautiful about opening my heart, my head, and my hands to the Holy One. I think Bible schedules and plans are wonderful tools, but we must remember they are just that - tools made by man. God has a specific message for each of His children every day, sometimes several times a day. When we limit God and His Word to a box and a check mark, we are taking control rather than allowing God to control us through the power of His Word.
When God speaks to you, respond. You'll be amazed how much God will reveal to you when you continually seek Him and listen to Him through His Word one day at a time. Don't get hung up on a Bible reading checklist. Read until God speaks to you and linger a little longer. Or a lot. And when you hear the Truth day by day, thank God for the power of His Word.