Friday, January 3, 2014

How to Have a Really Great Year

Yesterday I read the final pages of the Bible. The last chapter of Revelation.  And because I read the One Year Bible, I also read the final chapters of Malachi in the Old Testament, the final Psalm, and the last words of the Proverbs.  Even though the Bible itself was arranged by man, it's not surprising that the last words I read for the year were filled with hope, challenge, excitement.

I've long held the opinion that all great movies end with a wedding.  It's not a flawless measure, but it often holds true.  It's the same for all great love stories.  There is a commitment to love and cherish forever.  That is how the Bible ends, in the final chapters of Revelation. A marriage supper is prepared and the Lord Jesus, the groom, brings his Bride, the Church (the saints), to live with him in glory forever.

Yes, it's a fabulous way to end a year.

I shared via facebook yesterday that I was retiring my One Year Bible, the one I have used for the past three years.  It's literally falling apart and covered in various highlighters and pen marks.  I have a new One Year Bible to begin this year with and it is the third one I will use.  A new book is always exciting, so fresh and clean, but a new Bible to curl up with each morning, one that I'm free to mark up and use up, is the most exciting.   This book is alive. Every day it waits for me, to speak to me, to do it's supernatural work in me. I'm really beyond words to explain how this works. The Word of God is, simply, alive.

Several friends asked me why I like the One Year Bible reading plan.  It's not a magical plan, it's no better than any other Bible reading plan, but it is, in fact, a plan. And I think we all need a plan, a discipline when it comes to reading God's Word.  There are countless ways to read the Bible.  You need one.  For me, the One Year Bible is easy, with no guesswork, and it works.  Like I said, I love to mark up my Bible.  So an electronic version just wouldn't be the same for me. But there are tons of electronic Bible reading plans available if this suits you. Get one.  There are various hard copy Bibles that will take you through the entire book in one year or two years, chronologically or otherwise.  There are printable reading plans you can stick in your Bible and follow daily.  You can start in Genesis and just keep reading every day.  Or in Matthew. What I'm trying to say is, there is no right or wrong plan.

You just need to have one.


It's the way to have a  really great 2014.

It's been said if your Bible is falling apart, your life isn't.  I see the truth in this, but the truth is also that sometimes your life feels like it's falling apart. Or it's just not going the way you had hoped.  I'll be the first to confess that 2013 didn't feel like the best year ever. Those people that say their day goes better when they read their Bible make me want to scream. Because often, nothing in my day goes the way I want it to. Reading God's Word, meditating on it, immersing myself in it, doesn't make my day better. It is slowly, painfully, and even joyfully making me better.

What do I mean by better?  It's making me into the woman Christ wants me to be.  Hard days, pain, everything falling apart and all.

My hope for 2014 is that it will "feel" better. That things will start going the way I want them to.  I wrote in my journal this morning that I want to look back and say that 2014 was the best year ever.  And I asked myself, what would make this the best year ever?  My answer:

More of Jesus in my life, in my husband's life, in my children's lives, in my friends' lives.

Spending time with Him every day is the key to this being the best year ever.

The new year began with Psalm 1 and verses from Proverbs 1. Again, a man-made compilation of Scripture in the One Year Bible, but perfect words to begin the new year.

Psalm 1: 1-2
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, 
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

I don't have a goal for how much of God's Word to read this year.  Just to read it every day.  And to meditate on it. Let it steep.  Chew on it.  Let it feed me and fuel me and help me to flourish, not wither.

It's not about consuming mass quantities. As God's Word says of itself in Isaiah 28:10

For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.

Just the other morning I came downstairs and noticed how nice it was to have an empty sink and the pots and pans in the drying rack on the counter.  I had washed them the night before, something I never used to do.  I hate washing dishes.  Thankfully, I have a dishwasher, but there are certain dishes that can't go inside it and some that just need a good scrubbing by hand.  I used to let them sit overnight.  But then I began intentionally washing them after dinner, after I loaded the dishwasher.  Now it is just a habit, something I do every night, something that I'm glad I do. Because I love coming down to a clean kitchen every morning.

Reading God's Word every day is a habit that can be built like any other habit.  It is simply committing to doing it every day, even if it seems a small amount. It's making a time and place for it in your schedule. It's having a plan.  And then it's just doing it. Until you no longer struggle to do it every day.  It is just what you do and even what you look forward to.  This has been the case in my life and it's worth the effort.

And it's what will make 2014 a really great year.