Saturday, February 23, 2013

Plus (One)

Making it up as I go along

Lent, day 11. I thought I'd check in and let you know how it's going. Instead of choosing a discipline of giving something up, I chose a discipline of addition. The addition of a lot of Scripture, that is. 

It has ended up looking different from what I envisioned. I had initially said at least three chapters of the gospels every day. I was wrong about the chapters, the books and the days. But that's OK. Because the experience has turned out to be amazing and just what I was hungering for.

The Plan

I decided that one of the biggest ways I could purpose more time for Bible reading would be to take the time I usually spend Facebooking on my phone and read Scripture instead. So I used the You Version App (free!) to find a reading plan—the Community Bible Experience New Testament plan. That means that during Lent I'm going to read the whole New Testament at a pretty rapid pace.

So far, I have finished Luke and Acts, and this is what it has looked like:

Discipline with Grace

The everyday thing I was aiming for has not happened. I probably should not be surprised by that, but at first I was a bit stressed, because I wasn't accomplishing what I had set out to accomplish. 

Read that last sentence again. If it sounds as stupid to you as it does to me, you'll be glad that I went for grace over legalism. Instead of beating myself up if I don't read everyday, I've just been prioritizing as best I can and also receiving from God's hand some unexpected opportunities to consume large amounts of the Word in a sitting. A snow day. A sick day. A son who is juuuuussssst beginning to be able to entertain himself (or better, to play with his sister) for more than 17 seconds at a time so I can sit with my coffee and read while they play. 

I've ended up reading much larger sections at a time than I had imagined, and that's what has been so good. 

So good. 

There I find Delight

As so many who are wiser than me have said, God's Word is not meant to be read in 400-word chunks. It's meant to be consumed in large doses. First off, it really does take about a chapter to get going, to bring my head and heart to the text. So when I would stop after a chapter, I was gleaning very little, but when I plow forward, my mind and heart begin to erupt with truth and life. Also, it's easier to make connections between consecutive events, because I'm actually reading them consecutively. I feel like I have a much better grasp on Jesus's ministry and the nascence of the Church simply because I just ingested them in about 6 long sittings and a couple of catch-up reads.

(Which reminds me to say, the bulk of my reading has not been on my phone. I still like the ink-and-paper version better. But the phone has been good for keeping things moving and making the most of my time. And I am tracking my progress on the phone, which is also good.) 

So, there you have it, the Plus experiment is a success. And I have only written about the process itself. I've had about a million thoughts inspired by the content, and I don't even know how to begin to write about (let alone apply) those. All I can pray is that God will not let those thoughts come and go without changing me. I'm counting on His promise that His Word will not return void, but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. 


  1. What a cool journey of grace you're on! I've definitely seen the value in reading large chunks of Scripture at was actually a requirement of my exegesis papers in grad school to read at least 2 chapters on either side of the chosen passage for this very reason! You really begin to appreciate the author's (the human/holy spirit synergy) brilliance in building themes and guiding the reader toward eternal truths.

    Since your life circumstances can often keep you from the "fire hose" method (as we call in spiritual formation geek circles), be encouraged that an equally-powerful method for discerning truth can be to take very TINY sections of scripture and read them over and over. If you KNOW it's going to be one of those days (or one of those weeks like this one!), you can read just far enough for God to point something out and then re-read and pray through that particular verse or phrase with you the rest of the day. You can be just as immersed, saturated, bowled over and transformed by the "trickle" method as the "fire hose." The key is an intense listening to the Spirit as you read to discern what God would have you ponder and then quitting as soon as you know what it is.

    This is, of course, up to your discernment. If you're finding that what you're doing is all means, stay with it! Just thought I might teach (or more likely remind) you of another tool for your "addition" toolkit for those days that require a little extra grace.

  2. Christy, true. I have experienced that through Lectio Divina, and also, I find myself experiencing those micro-meditations in the midst of the fire-hose method. Very good.