The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge: How A Nearly Blank Page in the Bible Spoke Volumes

We began a breathtaking journey together of reading the entire Bible during Lent. The 40-Day Bible Challenge has been incredible. We never expected more than 5000 people  (and growing!) to download the Free 40-day Reading Guide. You can grab your copy by clicking here.

We’ve heard from people around the world—pastors, leaders, moms and dads, grandmas and grandchildren. One dad wrote this week to share:

“Just want to say thank you for your vision and encouragement on the 40-day reading. As a husband and dad of 4 with two jobs, finding time to read is a challenge, and my wife has almost become a Bible reading widow.

“Still, this exercise has reawakened (really, resurrected) my hunger for Scripture, and even made Christian music my sole choice (just lost my taste for others). And best of all, I feel a greater clarity of scripture and closeness to God than I had before. Ah simple faith, my old friend. How I’ve missed you!” 

Now let me be honest. Reading the Bible in 40 days isn’t easy. It demands intentionality. It requires us to reach for the Bible instead of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or the latest episode of Duck Dynasty (love that show!).

But what a way to prepare our hearts and lives for the celebration of the Resurrection—Easter—just around the corner!

During this last week’s reading, the first few days were spent in the minor prophets including Joel, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah and more.

I chuckled as I read Jonah’s story—I have a hunch there’s a bit of Jonah tucked deep down inside all of us. I smiled as I read my old friend Amos. While researching for Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey, I developed a deeper appreciation for this farmer-shepherd-turned-prophet and His earthy expressions of God’s heart.

Then the moment I’d been holding my breath for arrived—The New Testament. Oh, Matthew, Mark, and Luke —your words wrapped around my heart anew.

Jesus, the fulfillment of all God’s promises, busts in on the scene, and takes our breath away—leaving us wonderstruck! [Tweet this]

Yet as I read, the page that gave me the biggest pause contained the fewest words of all.

Just two.

“New Testament.”

You may have missed it. In The Message Bible that I’m reading, it’s but one page from Malachi 4 to the introductory paragraphs of Matthew.

One page. Thin. White. Mostly blank. Requiring only a split second to flip.

But as soon as I flipped the page, I had to go back. And I stared at this nearly empty page for some time.

Because while this one page represented a “Whahooo!” moment, a transition from the Hebrew to Greek Scriptures, the Promised Messiah arriving on the scene, I knew that for the people of God it represented something entirely different.

Silence.

400 Years of…

Deafening silence.

Heartbreaking silence.

Silence has a way of making you second-guess and self-doubt. [Tweet this]

Silence has a way of making you question what you believe, where’s God, and if He’s forgotten you altogether. [Tweet this]

Some might say I’m reading too much into a blank page, but anyone who has ever cried out to God and only heard the silence of God in response knows it to be one of the most painful sounds of all.

I allowed myself to sit. Staring at this mostly blank page. Allowing its weight to sink in. [Tweet this] I reflected on the silence of God in the past. The silence of God in the present.

Then I flipped the page. Joy came rushing in.

Jesus.

The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge: How A Nearly Blank Page in the Bible Spoke VolumesJesus who waits with us in the silence. Jesus who intercedes when we have nothing more to say. Jesus who proves to be God’s answer to all we cry out for, all we hope for, all we long for. [Tweet this]

Indeed, Jesus awaits us in our silence.

And somehow, quite mysteriously, a nearly blank page spoke volumes.

What image or word or phrase or idea has been popping off the page as you read the Bible this Lent? [Tweet this] What is the Holy Spirit echoing to you? [Tweet this]