Why is it we live life looking backward with regret more than forward with hope? Why is it we are so easily able to reflect and grieve the "I should haves" than to jump and grab hold of the "I'm going tos"?
I'm not the only one that feels this way, I know. Most of my friends would admit they've had some smidge of regret or disappointment over a step not taken or a risk avoided that ultimately would have been a blessing in disguise. That's real life. We're human. We calculate the cost of every choice... how much time, effort, money and everything else before we commit. And all too often, our manipulated math moves any measure of moxie right out of the picture.
Case in point: my friend Beverly Frazier. Last year at Meadow Park COG in Columbus, we challenged the congregation to try reading through the entire Bible in one year. Bible.com has some great plans that enable a person to do that a little chunk at a time each day. Still, the whole Bible in a year seemed like a circus-sized elephant to many, and lots gave up before they even started. But Beverly took the leap. She attempted... until she nearly quit. Her words: "I accepted the challenge - I fell behind, [and] fought giving up but finished the plan. For the first time in my life I have read the entire Bible and it has made a difference in my life."
I love my friend's candor, especially the part about giving up. Most of us, if we even agree to try something bigger than us, and then we don't meet the expectation (either one we "made up" or one we believe someone else has for us), we get discouraged and want to quit. Beverly fell behind in reading. Per her telling, waaaaaay behind. So far behind that her mental calculus told her she couldn't finish.
BUT. SHE. DID.
What was the difference-maker? Friends. Encouragers. People who told her what was possible when the enemy of her soul said it wasn't. The author of lies didn't want Beverly to finish; truthfully, he didn't even want her to start. But voices of truth, Godly friends who spoke confidence and capability into Beverly's heart and mind, wanted her to press on, and she did.
Two important things to note here: 1) The journey is better TOGETHER. Reading the Word solo could have been tough for Beverly. No one there to root her on, to walk with her, to remind her she could do it. But forging ahead with friends, she was able to get it done. She took captive the thoughts that said impossible, and put her faith in the God of the Book who said "All things are possible!" God created us for community -- to need each other as well as need Him -- and Beverly found that, in community, she could accomplish what she hoped to do.
And 2) Whether you finish or you don't, trying to do something bigger than you is possible when you do it with the One bigger than all of us. Beverly said, "I really wanted to complete this. I mean I was beating me up... but I really wanted to honor the Word. So I just started to read, at least 2 [readings] a day and by the last week of the year I only had one reading. I read it ALL. God would bring to mind what I read regularly, He was so loving to me." Beverly recognized that she was in community with the Father, and God was guiding and speaking to her each step of the way, leading her and loving her while she faithfully got back on track.
But even if she had not... even if she, like me, didn't get every reading done before December 31 last year, God loves her still. He loves me. His love isn't "earned" by dutiful Bible reading. It is given lavishly, abundantly, freely, without reservation. And certainly without the expectation that anyone make it from Genesis to Revelation in 365 days.
Having said all this, want to give it a go? This year, I'm reading through the Bible chronologically. I want to hear the story as it happened in (what most agree is) scholarly order. Here's what I'm sure of: 1) The journey is better TOGETHER. I've invited friends via FB, Twitter and now here to join the plan on YouVersion with me. YOU ARE INVITED. Let's do it! And 2) Whether you finish or you don't, trying to do something bigger than you is possible when you do it with the One bigger than all of us. God is with us on the journey, and that's the most important part. Finish or not.
Did you catch the biggest bonus of all? The spiritual benefit to Beverly because of her boldness. "It has made a difference in my life." Beverly hears more clearly and sees more readily God's work and will in her life because she took Him at His Word. That is the best reason of all to take the journey.
So seriously, will you join me? What have you got to lose? As far as I can tell, nothing... except the chance to look forward with hope at what God might lovingly teach you along the way!
Jesus follower. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Friend. Pastor. Learner.