When Daniel and I got engaged, we decided to count down to the big day by reading the psalms together—going backward from Psalm 150. We started with the final psalm 150 days before our wedding and read one each day until the morning of the ceremony, when we read Psalm 1. In the midst of all the decisions about venues and guest lists and cupcake flavors, it was a grounding ritual, a way to keep us focused on what was really important. It was a simple way for us to stay connected.
Until, that is, we hit Psalm 119.
The day we were slotted to read that psalm, Daniel had to work two jobs and we weren’t able to see each other at all. We’d decided in advance that when that happened, we’d read the verses to each other over the phone. But when I opened my Bible to Psalm 119, I was shocked to discover that unlike the psalms we’d read thus far, which ran just a few stanzas, this one went on for pages—176 verses, to be exact.
I dutifully called Daniel’s phone while he was at work, reading the psalm to him on message after message until an electronic voice told me his mailbox was full. It wasn’t until I hung up for the final time that it hit me: I’d spent the past half hour quoting Scripture, but I had no earthly clue what I’d just read.
It’s the middle of the year, and the longest days of summer are upon us. It seems like no coincidence that at the same time I’m reflecting on the midpoint of my chronological reading, I’ve also hit Psalm 119—aka the longest chapter in Scripture.
As a recovering perfectionist, I frequently find myself battling the temptation to allow my Bible reading to become merely an item to check off my to-do list, a legalistic chore to make God happy or to help me feel better about myself. That’s not the way I want it, though. I long to read from a place of grace, with the joy I’ve found in Christ dripping from every word.
I want my view of Scripture to look more the psalmist’s—lighter on duty, heavier on delight:
How I delight in your commands!
How I love them!
Your laws are my treasure;
they are my heart’s delight.
A few months ago, I made one of those eerily subliminal typos in my post about Ruth:
“I’ve been reading my Bible chronically,” I wrote.” Chronically, as in “settled or confirmed in a habit or practice, especially a bad one; hardened,” as the dictionary puts it.
Certainly, there’s something to be said for establishing good daily routines and choosing a lifestyle of healthy discipline. But I don’t want to become hardened. I don’t want to lose sight of grace in this dance of discipline and delight.
I want to find joy in his Word and then share it with other people. And I want to keep doing that as long as I can—at least until their voicemail fills up.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year (not to be confused with chronically) and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.