The year is coming to a close. 2019 was a good show. All forms of media really did it up right. Great set, great actors, great script—a real nail-biting heartstring-tugging ride.
But, bring up the house lights, and amidst the standing ovation, what do we have to show for it all?
We laughed. We cried. We won. We lost. We fussed about things we can’t change. We took a pass on things we can change. Day buried by day, 365 of them, back there in the rearview mirror. Some objects are closer than they appear; some memorable, some carefully forgotten. That’s the year. And, you and me, how are we different today than a year ago; for better or worse?
Maybe the question requires time to reflect. I’ll grant that. Or, maybe the reality is we don’t pay much mind to being different; to bettering ourselves, growing up even after we’ve grown up. It’s easier, whether by intention or accident, to just watch the world around us change as we stay safely the same, right?
May I be so bold as to suggest you try something for yourself this next year? It’s a biggie and a not-so-biggie at the same time. But, if you do it, I promise you’ll be different a year from now. May I suggest that you read your Bible?
I know you do, but listen, by “read” I don’t mean like any novel or top 10 book off the shelf. I don’t mean merely read your verse of the day and check the box. I don’t mean read your combination of chapters that shoves you further down the “Read the Bible in a Year” trail. If we’re honest, that is territory rarely charted with any thorough intent and generally finds burnout just months away.
Rather, when I say read the Bible this next year, I mean devote yourself to getting to know God in all His triune splendor by being with Him in what He wrote for us; for you.
Start by promising one thing and one thing only. Not how much or how often or how long…I’ll read one chapter a day, every day for the next six months. Don’t do that. Never make promises for days that haven’t been promised to you.
Rather, promise this one thing: Whenever and wherever you read the Bible, promise it will be the most valuable and important thing you can do in that moment. Start there.
Then, once you have some resolve, consider these two things: time and space.
For time…make it enough.
I brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush. It’s great. It buzzes from side to side, top to bottom, for three full minutes. Doing it twice a day, that’s six minutes I spend brushing my teeth. Do you realize One Minute and Five Minute devotionals are a thing? Has that been your thing? When you read the Bible, you’ll want to spend more time than that so as to not reduce it to a task as maintenance-mannered as tooth brushing.
Spend enough time to elevate the value and quality of it to paramount in the day. Force yourself to sacrifice. Get up a little earlier. Stay up a little later. Contrary to what many will say, there is no better time in the day than another for this manner of devotion. The best time is the one you choose and fiercely protect from day to day.
Every day? Who of us commoners are so flawlessly committed that we can keep a promise of every day. Give yourself some grace. Sickness happens, sleep beckons, jobs demand, people require. Forgive yourself and make it happen tomorrow or later in the day or a special length of time on a Saturday morning. God is kind. His kindness leads us to repentance; to spin around, backtrack the busy trail, find our way home, and settle into our devotion to Him once again.
For space…make it sacred.
Set apart some place that will be devoted to devotions. It’s not where you read your novels. It’s not where you mend your socks. It’s not where you scroll on your phone. It will be where you meet with God.
Set apart that corner chair with a cozy blanket. Or that portion of the throw rug that’s sun-bleached from the light of day. Or the table along the wall of the coffee shop where no one sits because it’s opposite the bathrooms. It will be a space those close to you will respect and help you protect, and one those far from you may never guess or suspect. It’s someplace you can count on to be ready as often as you meet with God; where you know He’ll patiently wait day after day for some uninterrupted time together with you.
Do you know of a space like this for the coming year? Will you make the time enough in coming days? The thing with this all—this devotion to knowing God more and better through time enough and space set apart—is you will stand here a year from now looking back and you will be different. You will have become more of who God has imagined you to be. But, even more, you will know Him more fully, even as you are fully known by Him now.
ANDY WEEDA has been serving young adults for 20 years. Currently, he is Pastor of Emerging Adult Ministry at Sunrise Baptist Church in Northwest Washington, where he leads The Branch: an emerging adults community, and directs LEAD Academy, an academic leadership initiative of the local church. You can read more from Andy on his blog.