Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Word of the Year

As we wake up to a new year, one of the recent trends is to ask about "the word of the year." What is your word of the year? What is the word you are determined to live by this year? Christians are even asking, "What is the word that God has given you for this year?" 

It's an exercise that has its merits. Choosing a word for the year is an invitation to reframe every experience you're going to have this year by what you want it to be (even though most of us will forget out word by, say, mid-February as it fades into the humdrum of simply life as we know it). Say that you choose a word like "faithfulness." This means that if you choose to truly live by this word, you will spend the year asking yourself what the next faithful thing is. And, in theory, you would then choose to live that out. 

Some of us struggle with this. What word should we choose? It feels a little bit like pre-determining your year, and how in the world can you decide such a thing when you don't know what will happen this year? What if you choose a word like "joy" and this year is nothing but tragedy and heartache? What if you choose a word like "adventure" but something pops up that keeps you settled in one place? You could potentially ruin your whole year just by choosing the "wrong" word for it. By choosing a word you're going to end up fighting against for the next 366 days (it's a leap year). 

So choose the right word. 

Choose God's Word. 

How about that? How about if we make the word of the year...God's Word? What if that's what we choose to live our year by? 

I know, I know. It seems daunting. God's Word is so...big. There's a lot of little words in God's Word, and it's difficult to know where to start. You've probably at some point undertaken a plan to read all of it, every bit of it, only to find yourself somewhere in a list of begats that you just couldn't follow or worse yet, in Leviticus, which seems like a lot of heavy do's and don't's. You've downloaded the plans, tried to follow them, worked around, but you just haven't been able to settle into a rhythm for it. It's just...tough. Tougher still if you don't want to simply read it, but also live it. 

I hear you. I've looked at the plans, too. They're...weird. One of the things that I've found most challenging about most of the Bible reading plans is that they're inconsistent. Want to get through the Bible in a year? Great. Just follow this reading plan. But you start to follow the plan and find out that they've broken the Bible into chunks by content or topic so that every day requires a different amount of time. Some days, you can be done in five minutes; other days, it takes 30. One day, you're reading five or six of the shortest psalms, but the next, it's asking you to read the longest one in one sitting. You read a small portion of the Gospel of Mark one day, but in a few weeks, it will tell you that you really ought to read Romans in one know, to get the full effect. How are we supposed to plan our day when we can't count on how much time we need to just read the Bible? 

Well, I'm going to change that for you. I'm going to give you my Bible reading plan, the plan I've been following for seven or eight years, which has permitted me to read the Bible through every year and know what kind of investment it's going to require from me on any given day. Are you ready? 

Pick a Bible. Pick a version of the Bible that you're comfortable with. Figure out how many pages there are between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22, and then divide that number by 366. That's how many pages you need to read a day. In most commonly-available translations of the Bible, this is somewhere around 3-5 pages. That's it. 3-5 pages. Do you have time to read 4 pages every day? Just four? Then you can read the Bible in a year. 

It really is that simple. 

And you don't have to start at Genesis if you don't want to. Start in Matthew if that's your thing. Start with Paul's letters. Start with the Psalms. Whatever's going to get you into it and help you establish a rhythm so that when you hit those begats or all those laws in Leviticus, it's not so daunting. It's not so hard. It's the same four pages at a time as you've been reading all along. That's it. By the time December 31 rolls around, you will have read every one of the little words in God's big word in a rhythm that you can count on. 

So how about it? How about this year, you make the word of the year...God's Word? It's more than just a spiritual discipline. It's an invitation. 

It's an invitation to reframe everything you're going to encounter this year by this Word. And live it. 

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