About two-and-a-half years ago I embarked upon a reading challenge of sorts — a challenge I set for myself — a challenge that I’ve since dubbed The Ultimate Reading Challenge. And it’s impacted my life in such a way that I feel compelled to share it with you. But before I divulge the nitty-gritty, I want to explain what brought me to the point of this challenge in the first place.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have always held a deep love for the written word. And since I am now an author, I’ve found that books hold more value, for me, than they once did. Mostly because I realize what it takes for a book to become a reality — how much time, energy, and love are poured into each page — from the earliest imaginings to the latest publications. Every story is unique and indelibly imprinted with a piece of its creator’s soul. Therefore, it takes a lot of courage for an author to finally release a work for the world to see and critique.
With having joined the masses of those who openly bare their souls, I understand the elations and disappointments that inevitably follow. And let’s be honest, there are more books available to read than there are readers to read them…. Yep, not exactly the kind of nugget you want to uncover as a novice author. Actually, it’s a pretty hard pill to swallow for any author, even if you’re someone who doesn’t hold grandiose dreams…. So, after many tears and prayers, I’m learning to write solely for the love of writing, and in order for me to write to the best of my ability, I have to continually follow my calling.
Which leads me to The Ultimate Reading Challenge itself.... In all my confusion, I began to misconstrue tangible results with success. But success is not always tangibly measurable, not in life and especially not when it comes to books. You see, when I started to complain about what I couldn’t see I was reminded about the Creator of the Universe. And it dawned on me in a new light that God had chosen to reveal Himself through the written Word—that He’s an author, too. That tidbit of information I’d taken for granted since childhood instantaneously transformed my point of view and my life. Suddenly, it felt as if I finally understood a small aspect of who God really is—that I could somehow relate to Him on a more intimate level. Mind you, my elation was short-lived and rapidly replaced by utter shame. It had been years since I had read the Bible in its entirety. And I couldn’t help but ask myself ... What value, in actuality, did I place on God and His Word, considering my actions? As an author, I long for my books to be read and have even found myself disappointed, at times, by those friends and family members who seem disinterested. But isn’t that exactly how I'd been treating God’s Word—with similar disinterest? And it was then when I realized what I had to do—I had to once again read through the Bible in its entirety.
I figured the most realistic goal I could attain was to read it through within a year’s time. So, I downloaded a Bible app on my smartphone and began reading. I’m happy to say that I stuck with my goal and actually finished one month ahead of schedule. Now, I’m on my third round of reading through in one year and am loving it. With the continuation of this challenge, I’ve begun mixing it up a little by selecting a different version with a different reading plan (Beginning to End, Canonical, Historical, Chronological, New Testament 1st, etc.). I’ve also begun to prayerfully read, asking God to reveal what He would have me to know so I’m not relying on my own understanding based on what I’ve been taught. It’s amazing the truths you will find when you view the Bible for what it is and realize that God, the Creator of the Universe, cared enough to reveal Himself in written form.
So, here comes the actual challenge…. I would love for you to embark upon this journey with me. Whether you’ve never read the entire Bible or have but haven’t in a while or even if you have just finished a similar plan, why not join this Ultimate Reading Challenge? Find an app (if you already haven't) for your smartphone, Kindle (what I use now), Nook, laptop, or whatever electronic devise works best for you. Or simply Google a one year reading plan, open a physical Bible, and join with me on this incredible challenge. (Here's one to try if you're a one-click kind of person: https://www.backtothebible.org/one-year-reading-plans.)
In the beginning, I started with the Touch Bible App(http://www.touchbible.org/) then moved on to the Bible.is App (http://www.bible.is/apps) but have since found that the YouVersion Bible App (https://www.youversion.com/apps) is, in my opinion, one of the most user-friendly apps with numerous options available to tailor-make your reading experience just the way you want it. There’s a feature for setting up a daily reminder so you’ll never forget to read again. It even offers several versions (including the KJV) in audio format so you can forgo reading and simply listen—definitely a great asset for those who are constantly on the go with little downtime for reading. Mind you, these aren't the only free Bible apps out there. So, if none of these are for you then do a little research and find one that suites your taste. There are definitely plenty to choose from. And honestly, in our modern age, we have no excuse not to be able say we’ve read the entire Bible, not once but multiple times throughout our lives.
To give you a little perspective on why this challenge is well-worth the effort let me give you some food for thought on just how unique the Bible is.... The Bible IS the greatest love story ever written. And unlike most love stories, it IS the only book written by an Author who actually loves every person who reads it and longs for a personal relationship with them. It IS the only book a reader can read multiple times and continuously fall deeper in love with its Author. It IS the only book written by an Author who is always present when its being read. It IS the only book that contains everything needed to live a victorious, prosperous life. And it IS the greatest book ever written or that will ever be written.
So ... what’s holding you back? Don't you want to be able to say you've read the Bible in its entirety? And if you already have, when was the last time you read it asking God to reveal what He would have you know instead of understanding it based on what you’ve been taught?
Please, don’t let one more day pass you by before you begin The Ultimate Reading Challenge. I promise, this challenge won’t disappoint. Your life will be ultimately and forever changed for the better because of it!