I have been mulling over this idea for YEARS! What better way to celebrate this day, the coming of the Christ, than inviting people to join me in reading through the BOOK that holds The SCARLET THREAD of His Redemption of mankind revealed from Genesis to Revelation!
Whether you have read through the Bible multiple times, read bits and pieces, or never even touched the thing, you are welcome to join me in this adventure. I have purposely spread it over three years because I know people get so discouraged when they cannot complete their ONE YEAR Bibles in a year. They get behind by the middle of January, and they quit. Ask me how I know? Because I have been there! Listen to my story.
Simply put, I wasn't raised on the solid food of the Bible. The Bible was never read to me in my home, and I did not read it on my own as a young child. The few times I did go to Sunday school in my early years left me with a hodge-podge of Bible stories with great big gaps in the larger story. It was all interesting to me, but I did not have any string that tied it all together. I did have Christmas down as the birth of Christ, but I could not have told you that Easter was about the resurrection of Jesus!
Then, at ten years old, after four years of praying that someone would show me who God was and where I would go after I died, I met Jesus at Green Oaks Ranch in Vista, CA (September 1969). Following that, I devoured every single topical follow up Bible study they sent me through their correspondence course. I went to church without my family and joined "Jet Cadets for Jesus" and even memorized John 1 for pins in my "hat," but I was so embarrassed when it came to the "Bible Baseball" game when all these "church kids" would know all the answers to the Bible questions, and I did not know any of them. It was humiliating for me as a kid (keep that in mind when you invite non-churched kids to your Sunday schools and play Bible games, by the way). By junior high, I gave up on church because I was too embarrassed there. I was just a misfit. I was still a pretty good kid though, but church was not the place for me.
(God did get my heart at the end of high school though. That is another story, and I will tell it here some time, but I am focusing on the Bible stuff for right now.)
Eventually, I went to Oregon State University, joined a great group called The Navigators, and learned how to study the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and memorize it. I ATE it up and grew in my love for Him and His Word and others. By the end of college, I had a pretty good understanding of the New Testament, who Jesus was, why He came, and the life of being His disciple and investing in others through discipleship.
One thing I could never do was read through the Bible though! I had a big mental block. The Navigators put out this magazine called The Daily Walk where you were guided through the Bible in one short year. Simple? Nope. I would die at Leviticus every time! I was still in The Navigators after college and shared a room with my friend, Debbie Brizee. Every night, she would faithfully get out her Bible and Daily Walk and read.
I was in awe.
I used to joke with her that it was more like The Daily Run than The Daily Walk! (Debbie was a track runner in college though. Maybe that is why she could do it. LOL!) I admired her discipline, but I did not worry about it too much for me. I was still in God's Word, and I was growing so I was not going to be stressed about reading through it.
It was not that I did not want to read it, but I am much more geared toward chewing on smaller portions (Thus, why meditation on small bits of Scripture comes so much more easily for me.) and really understanding what I am reading through studying it (I love to do word studies!), but because I was not raised on the Bible, the Old Testament was really difficult for me to get through.
In 1982, I was in Spain helping nanny some children while their parents were learning the language. I had a conversation with one of the people there about the Bible, and he asked me how long I had been a follower of Jesus. I replied, "Fourteen years." He said (in a very condemning tone), "I can't believe you have been a believer for fourteen years, and you have never read through the Bible!"
Sigh . . . Not really encouraging was he?
Fast forward to a few months later back at the University Inn at the University of Oregon, and I am following up a brand new follower of Jesus named Karen. She had come out of a punk-rock background (It was the early 80's.), and she knew nothing about the Bible. She had questions about Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the patriarchs. Oh my! I was in over my head! The New Testament was more my specialty. "Karen, let's talk about Jesus, shall we?" Still, she persisted in wanting to know the answers to all her questions. I was sweating it when it came to finding the answers.
I needed HELP so I sent an S.O.S. distress call to my Navigator campus leader, Dennis Blevins. He offered to meet with both Karen and me. I will never forget that evening in the spring of 1983 when Dennis pretty much mapped out the whole "Scarlet Thread" of redemption from Genesis to Revelation on a Lion's Restaurant napkin. We flew over the Old Testament through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the history of Israel and landed right at the feet of Jesus! What a thrilling ride. It all fit together. How did he do that?
I was in awe.
The awestruck spell was broken, however, when Karen complained, "How come you know all of this and Carol doesn't?" (Awe to horror in a matter of seconds - I was ready to hide under the table at that point.)
Dennis asked me, "Carol, how long have you been a believer?" I managed to squeak out, "Fourteen years," remembering the sharp rebuke I received from another leader in Spain just months before when asked the same question. I braced myself for the sting of another rebuke.
Dennis graciously replied, "Karen, Carol has been a believer for only fourteen years and was not raised in a Christian home. I was raised in a home where they taught the Bible to me on a daily basis, and I have been a believer for a lot longer than Carol. So, she is doing just fine where she is at right now. She is just a 'teenager' in the Lord. That's all. Give her time."
Thank you Dennis B!!!!!
(Editor's Note: I should also say that Karen is now a professor of Old Testament Theology at a seminary. So, she had this need to know planted in her by God!)
Somehow, Dennis' "give her time" gave me the freedom to just take the time to understand the "full counsel" of God's Word on God's timetable for me and nobody else's. So, I started afresh with my Bible reading with a daily "stroll" through the pages of Scripture at my own pace. I did not put any legalistic expectations on myself that I had to finish in a year.
It took me five.
That was in the mid-‘80s. I have read through it many times since then (One time my husband, George, and I did not watch any TV or read any books and spent much of our evening time reading it and read through it in four months!). It gets sweeter and sweeter to me every time as I see this BIG GOD and His BIG PLANS for mankind through Jesus.
Since that time, I have graduated from Bible School in which I took some awesome Old and New Testament courses along the way, but I will always treasure that first time of just putting the pressure off myself to finish it and just enjoying the incredible journey of reading this love letter from God because it really is not about the reading but the relationship that grows between me, the reader, and Him, the Author of life.
So, I am inviting you to come along with me on this journey, and I pray that we will all be eternally changed through it.