Be an Intentional Friend
Have you ever learned something about a friend of yours, possibly even a close friend, that surprised you? I remember a while back at my Grandma’s funeral listening to the sermon the pastor was giving, and he referenced her love for dancing. Color me shocked! I did not know that my Grandma was into dancing. Going to a friend’s house recently, I noticed a plethora of house plants. Large house plants, well established house plants, plants in every room sort of house plants. I was impressed! I certainly didn’t realize she was a “plant lady” of sorts but here I saw firsthand what a green thumb she must have!
When you think you know someone, especially when you think you know someone well, finding out new things can be startling. They can also make you second guess yourself a little bit. Surely I thought we knew each other really well! Should I maybe be putting more effort into some of my relationships? What other things have I missed in all these years?
This idea can also relate to our relationship with our God.
The past eleven months I’ve embarked on a journey (and a challenge) to read the entire Bible in one year. I’m 33 years old. (Sidenote: Does anyone else need to calculate their age these days?) I’ve attended Lutheran grade school and high school. I’ve been going to church regularly my entire life. Yet… this will be the first time I’ve read the entire Bible. In fact, I didn’t even think I would be able to do it.
Here I am though, almost an entire year later (my how time flies!) and have almost met this goal. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I’ve learned in the past year. Things that I thought I knew already, but had forgotten. Things that surprised me. Things that downright stumped me completely. I’ve had this friend (a best friend, really!), for 33 years, yet there is so much I don’t know about Him, and so much I have to learn still! I can’t help but think, how much of an effort have I really been putting into this relationship with my God and Friend? How much more does he have to share with me? How much have I missed?
Being that this is my first year reading the whole Bible, I would hardly call myself an expert. However, I have definitely picked up a few things in the past twelve months to help me accomplish this goal. So whether you are a seasoned reader or looking to crack open the Big Book more regularly, hopefully you will find something to help you connect more with your Savior!
PRAY: First and foremost pray about it! I would be lying if I told you that I always feel excited and want to read my Bible. I don’t. I am a sinful human who has a busy life with plenty of things to fill my time with (even if it is Pinterest or Instagram). Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the hunger and thirst to read often, to dig deeper, and to get excited about it!
FIND A PARTNER: Having someone else to help hold you accountable, but also to bounce thoughts, ideas, questions, and laughs with can make the experience more memorable and enjoyable. I have a dear friend whom I have been texting back and forth with for over a year about different things we have read. Sometimes the questions are deep, other times we laugh (See 2 Timothy 4:13 “Oh hey! Can you grab my jacket? Oh and the scrolls, don’t forget the scrolls!), but I always am glad to have her to share the experience with.
ATTACH THE READING TO ANOTHER ACTIVITY: This might seem a little strange, but attaching Bible reading to something you already do can help make it easier to accomplish. This may not always be the same everyday, but it can encourage you to find habits and time in your day to fit Bible reading in. This could be reading during breakfast or lunch. Using an app to listen while doing other activities like driving, folding laundry, or prepping dinner. (I suggest downloading the Bible Gateway app and using the dramatized NIV. This version uses different voices/actors and also has music!)
JUST READ: You know what can be difficult to read? The Bible. It isn’t always easy to comprehend. There is always more you can get out of it and more to study further. You have my permission though to just read.
TRY, TRY AGAIN. Whether you are following along with a written Bible reading guide or challenge, or just doing your own thing, life will inevitably get in the way. Even if we are being intentional and setting time aside for this, things come up. Kids get sick. We get sick. There’s a vacation planned. Work got super crazy. It is bound to happen, and you might fall off the wagon for a little while. This is okay! Pray for help and jump back in. Some reading is still better than no reading at all!
Building our relationship with God doesn’t need to be super elaborate, but it does need to be intentional. We can be planned and purposeful with our time, we can find an accountability partner, we can find new strategies to fit reading in more easily, and we can get back up when we get distracted in our lives. It can and is as simple as picking up our Bible, opening it, and reading! Maybe we read it all in a year, or maybe not, but certainly we pave the way for a lifetime of fueling our friendship with our God.
“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
And do not return to it
Without watering the earth
And making it bud and flourish,
So that it yields seed for the sower
And bread for the eater,
So is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
But will accomplish what I desire
And achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”