Actually, yesterday was our Pathfinder Investiture and while the kids earned several badges, there are a few I probably could have gotten (particularly the honours I taught) if I’d bothered. But my sash is so full already …
But in fact, the “badge” I earned this week was a virtual one, about which I was informed by email and which I had to go to a website to download a picture of. Even though I can’t sew it on my sash, it does have meaning for me.
Yes, I finally finished my one-year Bible reading plan! (I signed up for it using the Bible app on my iPhone, and even when reading in the actual Bible I ticked off the chapters on the app so I could keep track, which is why I got a “badge” for it). I read through the Bible in a year.
What an experience. I’ve blogged about it several times now so you probably already know that the reading has left me with mixed feelings. It certainly forced me to confront a lot of the things I don’t like about the Bible, a lot of the things I question and struggle with. Those struggles, always in the back of my mind, were dragged forcibly to the forefront as week after week I ploughed through Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, Kings, and a whole lot of other hard parts. Reading through the whole Bible was definitely more challenging to my faith than reading the works of any atheist or skeptic I’ve ever read.
But the experience didn’t destroy my faith, though there were times when I thought it might. I’m not sure it really strengthened it either. It changed my faith, but then I suppose everything does, every experience, every encounter — if you are seriously making an attempt to live your life with any kind of spiritual dimension, then everything that happens to you is going to change how you perceive God and yourself in relation to God.
I still think reading the Bible is a good thing to do, though I wouldn’t want to read all of it every year. At the very least, a daily practice of reading it keeps the issues and questions and challenges, as well as the comfort and the promises, near the forefront of my mind rather than allowing them to be shoved to the back. I don’t know if this year’s reading brought me closer to God, as reading the Bible is supposed to do, but it certainly kept me engaged with God, even though much of that time was spent, like Jacob, wrestling with Him.
I’ve also learned something simple and practical about myself. I’ve been figuring this out for a few years now but this year’s experience has made it much clearer to me. I’m a person who works well with definite, measurable goals, and I’m much more likely to do something if I set myself a challenge. “Read the Bible every day,” which I’ve been told to do my whole life, is pretty much useless to me, as is “Get more exercise” and even “Write every day.” Things like “Read through the Bible in a year,” “Walk all the Grand Concourse trails this summer,” or “Write 50,000 words in 30 days during NaNoWriMo” — those things work for me. They might not for everyone but they do for me. If I have a chart or a list or a map that I can tick things off on, so much the better. I’m far more likely to stick with something after it’s become boring or difficult, if I’ve set myself a challenge and a way to measure my progress toward that challenge.
I’ll be looking for new ways to apply that exciting self-discovery. As for the Bible, I am going to start another one-year reading plan, I think, but I’m going to give myself a break and stick with the New Testament. Not that there aren’t some troubling things in there too, but the body count is much lower plus, of course, there’s Jesus. And I could definitely use a bit more Jesus.