I am starting a new Bible reading plan this year.
For three or four years now, I’ve been following the Moravian Daily Text reading plan. I love that plan dearly, and I intend to keep checking up on their daily watchwords and doctrinal texts as those have always spoken to me.
But one of my mentors in The Faith recently challenged me about my reading. He said I was reading too much as a duty and not enough as a devotion. He said I should simply read a text until I heard something from God. Then I should stop and reflect on what I had received.
This sounded great to me, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work with a progressive plan like the Moravian, a plan in which each day’s reading continues the previous days. Though I wanted to adopt this new way of reading, I felt I still needed a plan. I didn’t want to simply pick a book to read as I did in my younger days because I don’t want to be part of the process. I don’t think I should be in control of what I am reading. I think it works much better when someone else is in control.
So I needed a plan. But I wanted that plan to be simple enough that I could start and stop as my mentor suggested without derailing the whole thing. I finally found this simple thematic plan from this Bible reading plan app. I think the fact that it is thematic rather than sequential or chronological will allow for this start-stop rhythm. And while I intend to read everyday as the plan dictates (I usually take Saturday or Sunday off, at least from lengthy texts), I will be okay if I don’t finish a passage. After all, it will be seven days before I come around to the subsequent passage, so stopping a passage after hearing from God won’t be as big a deal.
And this new plan seems to be working already. Today, my reading is Genesis 1-3. I had many insights as I read through these familiar verses, but the one thing which stood out to me was in Genesis 2:18. There, God says “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him” (this is the new Christian Standard Bible translation which I have recently discovered and am really digging).
This caught my attention. I think that’s how receiving a word from God works: 1) something in the Scriptures or a song or your situation catches your attention, just the burning bush caught Moses’ attention, 2) you go to investigate, to look closer or think a little more, as Moses did, and 3) you receive a word from God.
The reason this phrase caught my attention is that I have been alone for the past seven days. My wife and daughter went back to our native Ohio for the Christmas break, leaving me by myself in California. Being an introvert and being so tired lately, I was really looking forward to the alone time. And I did enjoy that time. It was a time when I could do whatever I wanted. It was when I was at east, not having to get up to get anybody ready for school or to clean up after anybody or to feed anybody. It was a time I had been coveting for weeks. It was a time I wasn’t sure I wanted to end.
But as I read these words, I realized that while that alone time might be good for a week or so, it is not and never will be good forever. There were temptations which came with being alone. There were not just the sexual temptations Paul references in 1 Corinthians 7 (as you know, Paul concludes that marriage is better than burning with passion in that chapter), but there were also temptations to waste time (I did watch a lot of TV and play a lot of video games) as well as to fall into depression. There was a goodness of a sort to being alone but there was also a badness to it as well. No, not just a badness. A darkness.
So this verse really touched me. I recognized the darkness of being alone for what it was. I saw also that God got Adam to recognize that same darkness by making him name the animals, and that Adam did recognize that darkness as demonstrated by his statement “This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. notice the at last there. I’m not sure where that phrase comes from (it if is literal in the original Hebrew or inferred by the other words) but it shows that Adam was aware of the darkness of being alone, that he was delighted when he found another like himself so that he would no longer be alone.
And seeing all of that, I then saw my wife and daughter in a whole new way. I developed a whole new appreciation for them. I realized that they were not just burdens, not just the people I have to get up and feed and clean up after everyday, but blessed souls which keep me from falling into a deep, deep well. I came to agree that it is not good for me to be alone, that it is not nearly as good as it seems to me to be.
I figure the same is probably true for you. You may not have a spouse or a child; God put us all together differently. But you still need people in your life. You still need to not be alone. Can I encourage you to go find some? My prayer is that you, like Adam, will be done sifting through the animals and will find the people God has intended you to be with. My prayer is that you will likewise see that it is not good to be alone and that by God’s grace and direction you will find someone (or someones) to be with.