We’ve reached the end of the 27th week of 2017, meaning this year is more than halfway over. On January 1st I encouraged readers to embark on a yearlong Bible reading plan. I did so myself and, in all honesty, I have had both good days and bad sticking to the plan.
First, let’s look at some statistics on New Year’s resolutions in general, found on the Statistics Brain website:
- 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions.
- People who make clear resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t make explicit resolutions.
- 72.6% of resolutions are maintained through the first week.
- 68.4% are kept for 2 weeks.
- 58.4% are kept for over a month.
- 44.8% are held for more than six months.
- Only 9.2% of resolution makers feel they are successful in achieving their resolutions, while 42.4% say they never succeed.
If you have fallen behind in your Bible reading plan and if you have faced the temptation to give up, let me assure you that you are not alone. Reading the entire Bible in one year is like running a marathon—it takes training, persistence, muscle building, cheering from others, and a long time to complete. But just as sitting down at mile 13 won’t help you complete a marathon, neither will setting aside your reading plan in July help you complete reading the Bible this year.
As I said on January 1st, there are many good reasons to commit to reading the Bible in 2017:
- It is a guaranteed way to get to know yourself better (Hebrews 4:12).
- It will help you love Jesus more (John 1:1, John 14:21).
- It is made up of God’s words and is therefore infinitely useful to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- It will be a lasting investment (Matthew 24:35).
If you’re tempted to give up because you’ve fallen behind consider these ideas to help push you through:
- Listen to the Bible while you read it. If you’re like me, your mind may wander away from the scriptures (especially if you read them early in the morning) and before you realize what happened you’ve daydreamed for five minutes and have lost precious time to complete your day’s allotment. Listening to an app, while reading at the same time, will help you maintain focus.
- Listen to the Bible instead of reading it. It can be helpful, if you’re struggling to keep up, to listen to the Word while you drive or wash the dishes or mow the lawn. I think many of us feel we must actually read the words on the page, and while this may be ideal, listening is also tremendously beneficial. I myself got a couple weeks behind in February and I listened to both Joshua and Acts while cooking and driving to catch up.
- Read an extra chapter each day until you catch up. Though slow, it’s possible to regain lost ground by steadily and not-too-painfully increasing your reading by one chapter a day.
- Get away alone for a day. Consider taking a hike this summer with only your Bible and a water bottle. Finding a solitary spot may allow you the undistracted time you need to catch up.
My final encouragement is this: if you can’t catch up, don’t give up. Even if you have fallen months behind, don’t stop now. Recommit yourself to a clear plan—pick a time and a place from here on out. Don’t worry about the months that you missed, just start fresh today. It’s never too late to recommit to a nourishing diet of God’s Word. It will still do you much good.
We’ve got 25 weeks to go. Let’s press on.