What I learned about God and myself after Reading the Entire Bible in 40 Days

I can’t believe The 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge is over. Don’t worry, you haven’t missed out. You can grab a FREE reading plan, here.

We began around February 14 —a day of love and we concluded on the eve of Easter—another day of love.

Some days the reading was easy and delightful. Other days it felt brutally hard. Some days the Word came alive, anew, afresh. Other days, it felt stale, dry, and distant. Some days the discipline boiled down to checking a box. Other days I didn’t want to stop reading.

Along the way, I learned a few things about myself:

1. I have a laundry list of reasons I don’t read the Bible. Reading the Bible in such a short period of time exposed how I rationalize not reading the Bible more. [Tweet this]

I tell myself I don’t know where to begin. I tell myself the stack of titles on my side table is more pressing. I tell myself I don’t have the time. I tell myself that if I read the Bible in the morning I don’t need to read it later in the day. I tell myself the best place to read the Bible is on the couch, coffee in hand, Hershey snuggled nearby.

These 40-days revealed that I need to reorient my thinking. I can choose to make the time to read the Bible. Even five minutes of reading the Bible can make a difference. Those books on the shelf can wait until after I read my Bible. If I’m persistent in reading the Bible, I can get through it faster than I ever imagined. The New Testament can be read in a week. The Bible is cool. The Bible is fun. The Bible is breathtaking. [Tweet this] God can speak through the Bible even without comfy couch, coffee, and Hershey (gasp!).

2. I haven’t been carrying around my physical Bible. If you’ve ever seen me teach, you know my Bible is a whopper of a book. Old school. Love it. But for every day, including Sunday, I carry my Bible in the form of my phone. A zillion translations at my fingertips.

During Lent, I carried a hardback, heavy The Message Bible around with me. Through airports. On airplanes. To the hairdresser. To the dentist. Running errands. I needed every smidgen of time to keep up with the reading.

Within a few weeks, any hint of self-consciousness carrying around that huge book faded. Occasional conversations were started about the Bible. Plus, my biceps got stronger. I think I need to carry around a Bible more often.

3. Reading the Bible through in 40-Days made me feel spiritually stronger. I don’t know how to explain this except that it kind of felt like going to the gym. It was hard. But it hurt so good!

The Scripture shifted the way I thought and interacted. Many times over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking to friends and co-workers, and my response to a story or situation would be Biblical. “Oh, that situation sounds just like Absalom and David,” or “It’s funny but the Bible says you can’t serve God and the bank,” or “I love that story—it makes me think about everything that’s true and lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8).”

It was as if the filter for my thinking became the Scripture. [Tweet this]

I learned and re-learned and discovered a zillion things while reading the Bible over the last seven weeks—far too many to list here. But one of the biggest themes I saw through this intense Bible reading was simply about God.

A lot of times we like to draw lines between the Old Testament and the New Testament God as if He somehow changed or had an extreme makeover. [Tweet this]

What I learned about God and myself after Reading the Entire Bible in 40 Days

I also saw the severity of God. There’s no messing around with God. Holiness is serious business.

What I learned about God and myself after Reading the Entire Bible in 40 Days

Neither the love nor the severity of God fades in the person of Jesus Christ. Both are revealed in their fullness. [Tweet this]

The love of God emanates from Jesus—healing, restoration, arms wide open to a broken world. Yet Jesus also reveals a severity. When it comes to following Christ, there’s no room for dilly dallying or playing with faith.

Dried up fig trees.

Camels and eyes of needles.

Religious leaders referred to as a brood of snakes.

Poking out eyes.

Cutting off hands.

I’ve seen enough theologians talk about these passages to grasp the context, the meaning, that everything isn’t literal (aka—just because Jesus says He’s the door, you can’t go buy Him at Home Depot), but as I read through this Lent, I simply felt the sting of the seriousness that Christ spoke anew, in a good and healthy way.

This call to follow Christ is serious business. And after 40 days in the Bible, I want to renew my commitment to follow Jesus no matter what may come—experiencing the fullness of who He is and all He has in store.

I hope you’ll consider joining me next year during Lent when we read through the Bible again.

What have you learned about yourself and God as you’ve read the Bible over the last 40 days?