I grew up in the church, so I have the (semi) unique perspective of having known God for most of my life. I played an angel in the Christmas program in the Baptist church I was born into, and later a Wise Man in the Methodist church I was confirmed in. I spent Sunday mornings in Sunday school, and the evenings at junior youth group, and then later in youth group. I traveled to a handful of church camps (like Wesley Woods and Cherry Run) and more contemporary gatherings (my favorites were Kingdom Bound and Youth Explosion). I said my prayers, I read the book, I did my best to walk the walk with my tiny feet.
As those tiny feet grew, so did I, and along the way I spent a lot of time struggling internally with my identity as a Christian. I spent time trying to fit into the what some may consider the “Christian mold”, and found myself filled with endless frustration because I couldn’t even begin to live up to the standards I had set. And quite honestly, I grew a little bored and wandered off the path those tiny feet had once followed. I knew I still had Jesus in my heart, but like any relationship, without work it struggled.
I spent my college years feeling lost, and (more than a little) broken inside on many occasions. I turned to earthly ‘solutions’, and away from prayer. I questioned what I had been taught all those years, yearning for some excitement – a spark.
But then, somewhere along the line, something happened. If I had any doubt in the Parable of the Lost Sheep written in Luke, (for those of you who may not be familiar) “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?.” God proved how mighty His word is (again).
It finally clicked: Christianity isn’t supposed to be boring. Jesus definitely wasn’t boring – boring people don’t attract incredible crowds to them. People don’t drop everything, abandoning all they know to follow boring people. Boring people don’t heal the sick, give sight to the blind, feed 5,000 with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. It takes someone courageous, charismatic, almighty.
I’m sure some would stand to argue, but I don’t believe for a second that God intended for us to live neatly, to stay inside the lines. We are made in His image, and are meant to live like Christ: courageous, charismatic, bold. Shining with the light of the Lord. We were created to be unashamed of our beliefs, and unconstrained by earthly limits. We were made to lead lives full of adventure, lives filled with the incredible plans God purposed for us long before we were born – even those that are intended to help us grow.
As 2017 was winding to a close, I felt the pull of God on my hand and heart – and then I stumbled across these words…
If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this:
You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.
Talk about hitting me straight in the core, those words (quite literally) knocked the breath right out of my chest. What a powerful reminder that relying on God must start over again every day as if nothing has been done. Which is what brought me to my decision to commit to reading the Bible, in its entirety, over the course of 2018 – a chance to invite God into my daily life again.
I started this ‘challenge’ (I feel strange calling it a challenge, so maybe journey is the right word here instead) last January, on the She Reads Truth app. I loved that it was interactive and easily accessible, but I struggled with staying focused on a digital version. So, this year, I chose to invest in a 1 Year Bible in order to read it in paper form. I really love the breakdown of this program too – each day includes Old Testament, New Testament, Proverbs, and Psalms – so it really breaks it up into easily digestible portions.
There a ton of variations of yearly Bibles out there, but I had heard really great things about this one and was it recommended by a few people who completed it in 2017. This particular Bible also comes in a handful of translations – I opted for the New King James Version, but it’s all about personal preference. Growing up in the Methodist church, we generally used the KJV translation, so that is in my comfort zone. What I like a little more about the NKJV as opposed to the KJV is that is includes more modern verbiage while still maintaining much of the traditional translation and sentence structure of the KJV.
The last few years have been incredibly hard for me – with multiple moves, a few great losses, and the highest and lowest of love along the way. But this year, things feel a little different. For the first time in a long time, I feel grounded. Over the last 3 years I’ve grown and strengthened my wings, now it’s time to grow in the other direction. Now, it’s time to grow firm in my beliefs, my faith, myself. I’m praying for a year full of building my relationship with God, and trusting His plan for this season of my life.
“Because one day we will look straight into the eyes of Jesus Christ, and suddenly the money, popularity, and earthly possessions will be nothing by loss. The only thing worthy of His attention will be the way we loved. On judgement day, will He know you as a close and loyal friend, or a distant stranger? The gospel is so urgent. To know Jesus is to know beauty, adventure, freedom, love, and joy. To know Jesus intimately is the most valuable gift one can attain on this Earth. Don’t wait any longer, start living now.”