I am really good at starting things, but terrible at finishing them. Establishing new habits is especially challenging for me, because there isnít even any ďfinishingĒ to look forward to, just an elusive feeling of satisfaction that Iím doing the right thing day after day. Okay, so I might get fewer cavities, and not develop osteoporosis, and no bill collectors will menace me, but somehow these negative (though highly desirable) results are too etherealÖ just not enough to keep me flossing, exercising, budgeting, on and on.
When there is something crucial that I want incorporate into my life as a habit, I need to make it as easy as possible. Foolproof. Fail-safe. Too easy not to do, and requiring no extra brain work to accomplish each day. Pathetic, I realize. But itís good to know yourself.
It is vital to me to soak up as much Scripture as I can each year, and not just glance over a few verses in a devotional reader every day. Why? Because Iím not strolling these sunny sidewalks strictly for kicks. Iíd rather move off planet, actually. But God wants me here for now, so I spend time absorbing His Word. That way I'll be more and more ready for whatever He wants of me, for as many days as He keeps me breathing.
Great resolutionóbut how to make it too easy? Like this: I did some math and made some bookmarks.
The Math (just a tad, donít panic):
The Bible has 1189 chapters: 929 in the Old Testament, and 260 in the New Testament. If you read six days a week, thatís 313 days in a year. 1189 chapters/313 days=3.8 chapters a day, round it to four chapters a day, six days a week to read through the Bible in a year.
Since the Bible is organized into handy sections, it works well to read from four sections each day. Slogging through Leviticus has brought many of my Bible reading resolutions to a grinding halt, but if I know I only need to read one chapter of laws about offerings, then move on to a gorgeous Psalm, Iím motivated. So I read one chapter each day from History (Genesis through Esther), Poetry (Job through Song of Solomon), the Prophets (Isaiah through Malachi), and the New Testament. If I want, I can make it two chapters a day in the New Testament, which gets me easily from Matthew through Revelation twice in one year, while still completing the Old Testament once.
The plan is not fail-safe yet. I cranked up the word processor, set it on ďlandscapeĒ, and designed four bookmarks, one each for History, Poetry, the Prophets, and the New Testament. Each lists the books in that section, and how many chapters in each book, just because I like to know that when Iím reading Isaiah 45, I have 21 more chapters to go before advancing to Jeremiah.
I printed the bookmarks on cardstock, cut them apart, and inserted them into my Bible at Genesis, Job, Isaiah, and Matthew. Each day I read a chapter in each section. Slowly the bookmarks progress through the pages. I cross each book off its bookmark as I finish it. If I skip a day, I just pick up where I left off the next time I read. Thereís a little wiggle room between 3.8 and four chapters a day anyway, and lots of extra days after the 260 New Testament chapters. I donít obsess, I just keep at it. Iíve been doing this for several years now, so I guess I succeeded in establishing a fail-safe habit!
Oh, and the benefits of this habit far outweigh any conceivable personal finance or physical fitness routine. The more Scripture I read, the more Scripture I want to read, until every page glows with passages that are thoroughly familiar, yet which keep releasing more richness and tremendous power with each reading. Now if I could just figure out a way to make flossing so satisfying.
Download my free Bible Bookmarks for your own use.