It is finished! One of my major goals for 2012 is now complete.  It was incredible.  It was eye-opening.  It was humbling.  And it was not always comfortable.  However, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone in a heartbeat.  Back in February I publicly revealed one of my major goals for this year – my intent to read through the entire Word of God (ESV).  On December 18th, I successfully finished my last chapter of 2 Chronicles, thus compBoy Reading the holy bibleleting the M’Cheyne reading plan (13 days early, but who’s counting).  This reading plan (and there are many good ones out there) was created by the 19th century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne (who I know nothing about) and takes a reader through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once in a calendar year.  My original rationale for setting this goal was two-fold:  for the sake of my own discipline and for the reduction of my own hypocrisy (please refer back to my February post for further explanation).  If the lessons I learned were only contained to those two areas, it would have been a resounding success.  But in fact, I learned so much, much more:

  • Discovering my life chapter – Listening to people’s life verses has always intrigued me.  I enjoy trying to see the connections (if any) between the person I know and the verse they have chosen as their guide.  I fully realize the entire canon is profitable to us (thank you 2 Timothy 3:16).  But I also see value in focusing on a specific section or verse that the Holy Spirit uses to speak to use at a certain place or time in our lives.  As for me, Psalm 37 is it.  I have always had an affinity for Psalm 37:5 (“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”) but as I examined the entire chapter, I desperately wanted to hear the music that would accompany this psalm.  Justice and evil.  Righteousness and envy.  Trust and fear.  Patience and anger.  Our enemies.  Our Lord.  It is a mini-master course on the Christian walk and bursts with meaning at every turn.   It will take me a while to unpack everything that is there.  As I go forth, I will memorize it and study it more (say hello 2013 goal candidate)…and enjoy every step.
  •  Some books are VERY hard – Isaiah is a challenge.  Ecclesiastics can be difficult.  Leviticus is a beast.  Romans is complex.  The Gospels can stretch you to your limits if you happen to struggle with word pictures.  And don’t get me started on the minor prophets!  But it’s God’s word to us.  It is ALL important.  It is ALL there for a purpose.  It is ALL there for a reason.  And God WANTS us to know it.  It’s funny how we never question reading passages from Crime and Punishment or Gone with the Wind more than once (and yes, of course I chose two classics as example that I have actually read.  Moby Dick…haven’t gotten there yet).  I look forward to continued study of all these difficult sections or those areas that specifically spoke to me but that I need to flesh out more.  It will be well worth it. (If you’re curious, so of the additional sections I noted were Psalms 112; Colossians and love; 2 Kings 23; James 1; the Luke 3 genealogy; Israel and Judah; why Moses was almost killed by God very early in his mission; the whole sacrificial system; etc)
  •  It is an emotional and uplifting experience – Amazing.  Awe-inspiring.  Vast.  Stunning.  The consistency.  The connectedness.  There were times when I would just shake my head with a huge smile.  There were times I would immediately go to prayer in praise and awe of Almighty God.  And there were times I would scratch my head and try again.  But through it all, I thank the Holy Spirit for guiding the entire process.
  • Time constraints?  Dedicating the time was not a problem in the slightest.  Usually about 15-20 minutes a day.  If you have time or are in a groove, do a little more.  Things get crazy or the day gets away from you?  Do a little less.  Adjust it to your schedule – fit it in whenever you have a moment.  The most I ever got behind I believe was two full days (or about 8 chapters). The most I got ahead?  Well that was 13 days when I finished.  This is where choosing the reading plan that fits you is very important.  The pacing and divisions for the M’Cheyne plan were perfect for me and my schedule.
  • I have script ideas for a lifetime!  I once read that all good stories can be boiled down to the three main concepts found in the Bible:  creation, fall, redemption.  Although I agree with that summary on many levels, from a writer’s standpoint, the Bible is a living, breathing case study in script creation.  The genres, the authors, the settings, the characters, the structure.  Wow!  So very valuable.  Seriously – how can you read Isaiah 37 or 2 Samuel 2 and not want to start outlining a spec script immediately?!?!  Wonder if I have to include those “Based on a true story” title slides?!?!

And finally, what about my two original goals?  Was the discipline worth it?  Did I reduce my own hypocrisy?  On the discipline front, it was absolutely worth it.  Doing something for almost a year straight is valuable and helpful.  Not only because of the result, but because of the process.  This is one of the hardest lessons I continue to struggle with in my life.  There is always value in the process.  Realizing my personal blind spot regarding the value of the journey (as my sole focus was always on results) has greatly changed my life. And what about that whole hypocrisy thing?  Did I reduce it?  That may need its own blog post at some point because I did…and I didn’t.  I know immeasurably more about the word of God now than I did one year ago.  I am more confident talking about some aspects of it.  BUT…I also know that I have immeasurably more yet to learn.  So discipline, value in the process and more yet to learn…hmm…does that sound like a situation where seminary would be profitable to anyone?  It does to me.  I start January 7th.