What I Learned About God & Myself From Reading The Bible in 40 Days During Lent

Margaret —  April 1, 2013 — 20 Comments

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?

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20 responses to What I Learned About God & Myself From Reading The Bible in 40 Days During Lent

  1. Thanks for the challenge. Here’s what I got out of it.

  2. Tara Lantieri April 1, 2013 at 5:05 am

    I was amazed at how much time I could actually slice out of my day to do this challange. I just said to my hubby last night…PLEASE don’t let me turn into lifeless blob staring at the TV now that this is over and I have 2-3 FREE hours everyday.
    I’ve been following the Lord whole heartedly for 15+ years now and started reading through the Bible many times but ended up giving up 2 months in…I feel so accomlished right now. This definitely confirms that I work best with short term goals. I’ll be honest the last few days, I was pushing myself through, even as excited as I was when we arrived at the New Testament…I had to try so hard to stay on task. I think I may have lost some of the zeal I had at week 1 & 2…but God was faithful. I plan to now take a 40 day leisurely stroll through the New Testament and drink in those familiar books. Thanks again for the challange Margaret, I find myself wanting to ask you…what’s next??!! 🙂

  3. I learned that I could take this time and my world didn’t fall apart. For an accomplishment junkie like me, that’s huge. I’m looking forward to living in the “unforced rhythm of grace.”

    • Elisa,

      Agreed. It felt like hiking a steep mountain. Rewarding. But I need to go nap and eat a yummy meal and rest now. Over the last few weeks, I’ve collected a stack of books I want to read…so that’s what I’ll be diving into next.

  4. I loved getting the whole counsel of God….It actually feels a bit strange today….I did a Daniel fast along with the reading….to be honest…physical food has lost some of its power….but eating on His truth in such an intense way has heighten my hunger for Him….thanks again for opening this door for me and others to walk through….blessings as we move forward in Him.

  5. I found reading the whole Bible in 40 days to be both stimulating and tiring. But I got so much out of it reading it fast in this manner. I’ve read the whole Bible in one year or two years, but the 40 day reading really did/does make me feel spiritually stronger. Yes, it was like going to the gym, but what a lot of surprises along the way; I really do have time to do this everyday, I really can relate more everyday things to Bible verses, and I really understand a lot more about God now.

  6. I don’t blog. I’m not a verbose writer. But I learned a lot about myself, following God, and the Bible in the last 40 days. I prayed to God for discipline. This reading plan was my answer. I’ve never made it through a complete reading plan, much less never read the complete Bible. Not only did I do it, but I loved it! My faith and spirituality have deepened incredibly! There were days that the words and my eyes crossed. But my vision couldn’t be clearer- What it takes to follow God and live out His word every minute of every day. So today I start a slower more in depth reading of the Bible. It will finish just in time to do a 40-day Lent reading again. And this time I’m dragging my family, friends, and small group with me!

  7. Margaret

    Firstly, thanks for the idea & the constant encouragement throughout the 6 weeks. The fact I was part of a virtual team sharing this experience helped me persevere. Will I do it again in 2014? Well I’ve got 11 months to meditate on the idea.

    It was exhausting, at times a real slog, but it’s one of the best things I’ve done in ages. I hope you don’t mind if I reference a post I wrote on my blog yesterday where I reflect on 2 key learnings from the experience, here:



  8. Here’s what I learned:

    1. I can actually read the whole bible in 40 days. Less than that, really, if I was willing to put in the daily time. When I first read this challenge, I honestly thought it was unrealistic.
    2. Going through problem areas is much easier at this pace. If you take a year to read the bible, you get a couple weeks on Chronicles. That’s a sucky couple weeks. But 2-1/2 days of it and it’s not only doable, but enjoyable. The end of any tunnel is never more than a day or so away.
    3. I found connections for myself that I never realized. It’s so much easier for one book to inform another when you just read it an hour or a day prior. That leads me to…
    4. The bible as a whole becomes more coherent; less disjointed. The heart and soul of God shines through the various periods and writers. You can appreciate the angry frustration of Ezekiel much better alongside the patient pragmatism of Jeremiah when you have the narrative of Kings and Chronicles fresh in your mind.
    5. The best reading time for me is early morning. I can do it at other times, but nothing compares to rising well before the dawn and the rest of the house, curling up in my spot with my bible and coffee, and taking it all in. Also, as the kids wake up one by one, they like to come sit by me and wait for the others. It’s a nice scene.
    6. God really wants to make this work. Not the bible reading. I mean creation. He’s put so much into drawing men and women to him in a community of good and helpful people who acknowledge and honor him.

    • Charlie, wow! Thank you so much for sharing. I am so thrilled that God revealed Himself to you during this time! The Word…what an ah-mazing gift!

  9. I have been looking for the plan and I can’t seem to pull it up anymore. GOD has put it in my spirit to read it again. It was beautiful to go through the bible this way and learn HIS heart. The first time HE had me read it out loud over our home which was a condemned crack house for many years and has now been restored and has missionaries living in it. It was incredible to watch HIM change things. We are about to move to Canada and live there as missionaries. Can you email me the plan by chance? GOD bless you. Thanks, Laura Sims lnsims5@gmail.com

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