It seems it was just Christmas and now it's February first. January was a long month but, at the same time, it flew by! It feels like I just started my Bible only challenge but it's already over. When I posted last week, I mentioned that I was hoping to read through the end of Nehemiah. Once again, I underestimated myself!
During the 31 days of January, I read:
I could have read more. I found myself mainly reading first thing in the morning and again right before bedtime. Occasionally I would sit down in the middle of the day and read a few chapters or read a bit while waiting for a pot of water to boil. I didn't read the Bible for as many hours as I would normally spend reading other books, but spent more time each day in the Bible than I usually do. It's a matter of balance, I think.
To be very frank, I learned a lot about myself during this challenge. Reading the Bible is not exciting to me, though I do enjoy it. When I read other books for the first time, I find myself excited to sit down and see what happens next. I've read the Bible completely through at least three times and have read a few of the books (Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis, the Gospels) numerous times over my life. I was born into a Christian family and thus have heard many of the Bible stories many times. For the most part, I know what's going to happen next. The familiarity strips away some of the eagerness of reading.
On the other hand, each time I read through the Bible, I learn new things. I become aware of holes in my Biblical education, of biases that are taught in children's classes or facts that are left out. For instance, do you know how Esther came to be queen? She pleased the king, and it wasn't simply because of how she looked! How PG-13! Just last week I finally caught on to the fact that the Jews (in the book of Esther) were saved not because they weren't hunted by non-Jews. No, they were hunted but because of Esther pleading with the king were allowed to defend themselves and killed thousands and thousands of people in one day! That was not taught in my Primary School class.
Now that I'm older and taking the time to search, I love tracing themes throughout the Bible and seeing how the Old Testament and New Testament are tied together. You can't reject the Old Testament by saying we're no longer bound by it or to it. There's so much in the Old Testament that is still relevant, that is still crucial to our understanding of God. So much of what is taught in the New Testament is also taught in the Old! Unless we take the time to read both, we don't see the complete picture.
Overall, I came away from this challenge with a greater appreciation of the Bible. I've found that I can spend 30 minutes reading the Old Testament stories and not get bored. While it's not exciting per se, it's interesting and important and relevant. I really enjoy spending time with God first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed. I'm looking forward to spending more time in God's Word.