I am not a great fan of New Years Resolutions. I have made many over the years and have kept to none of them. And here’s the problem – having spent over forty years with a mediocre diet, intermittent exercise, irregular time in prayer and reading my bible, I somehow convince myself that something magical happens on the stroke of midnight on 31 December that transforms me from the imperfect, inconsistent me to the disciplined, focused and consistent person needed to stick to resolutions and eat healthy, exercise every week, start each day with a time of prayer and read my bible from cover to cover. But on January 1 I am still the same person I was when I went to bed the night before. I have the same weaknesses and struggle with the same temptations. And so why am I surprised when cakes and biscuits creep back into my diet, the sofa becomes more attractive than the running shoes and my bible once again starts collecting dust.
So this year, I have no new year resolutions. I have set myself no expectation of huge transformation in my physical or spiritual life. But that doesn’t mean there is no space to improve and that I shouldn’t strive year on year to be better at many of these things than I was the year before. So what I have done this year is set myself a new year challenge – something small, achievable and most importantly sustainable. And I invite you to join me.
The challenge – to read the bible more than I did last year. If I managed to open the bible once a week before, I will aim to make it twice. If it was just once a month, then make it fortnightly. If I can’t remember when I last opened my bible at home, then I will start by just opening it once. If I exceed the challenge, excellent. But there is no expectation on me to do so, and no expectation on me to out-do anyone else.
Why this challenge? Because there is so much to be gained from reading the Bible – it inspires, challenges, comforts and nourishes us. Jesus knew that only too well. At the age of 12, he was so engrossed in listening to it that he stayed and listened in the temple for over 3 days unaware that his parents left the city without him (they did eventually realise and go back for him). The bible is so rich in what it contains that even opening it once has so much to offer.
Sitting down to read the Bible shouldn’t start with a feeling of guilt about how long it’s been since that last happened, but a feeling of excitement for what is about to be read. Reading the Bible one day a week is not six days of failure but one day of success.
For me to really grow and transform, I am much better to rely on the power of God’s work than the false expectation of my own ability to magically change when the clock strikes 12.
So join me this year in this challenge: Read your Bible more than you did last year and delight in what it has to say.