As mentioned in the last post on the book Passages, I found myself at a place where I couldn’t really say that I believe that reading through the Bible daily over the course of a year was guaranteed to make a substantial change in the lives of every person who completed it.
I believe that it can make a very big difference for some… but for everyone?
But if I don’t believe that it will for everyone, do I really believe that it will for me?
And if I don’t believe that it will for sure, do I really even believe that God in general makes a dramatic change in the life of every single person that seeks it?
And again, if I don’t, do I even really believe that it will for me?
I know my answer should be yes… but it took me a bit to be able to arrive there honestly.
Because as much as I know that it should… unfortunately I can think of way too many examples where it really doesn’t seem to.
My life has examples where both have been the case… but would I really be bold enough to stand up and tell someone that I would promise that would be the case for them if they directly asked me?
Honestly? I would probably give a wishy-washy “yes, but your mileage may vary as to the extent”. Which is really about what I felt wasn’t really put into the book that well.
Why I don’t believe everyone will get a dramatic degree of results is because it isn’t what I’ve seen through people.
So why don’t I see the same changes happening in everyone?
The answer sort of came in a roundabout way.
The author had used a comparison to being a workout, in that it could take time to show progress.
Which had brought to mind to me the comparison to a diet book, making big claims that some people have and will get, but that some people might not.
And that’s actually part of the key. Because it does work exactly the same way.
Because why don’t diets work as well for everyone as they do for some people?
I once read a book that gave the best answer that I’ve ever heard to that question. Because it said that every diet works. Every one.
But… they only work as well as you can keep them.
If you are passionately going after the weight loss, keeping to the letter of every food change, and working your tail off to the best you can, then you are going to have wonderful results no matter what the particulars of the diet are.
But, that’s really hard to do for any extended length of time, no matter which diet it is. You can push through the first part, but after a few weeks, it gets really hard to maintain the motivation and the momentum.
You may still be on the diet… but are you really giving it all that you’ve got anymore?
Which sounds a lot like how most Bible reading plans go. And most resolutions period.
How much am I really giving? Can I really say that I’m giving it all that I’ve got? Bible study, or relationship with God, or prayer, or really anything?
Uh, no. As I admitted around New Years, my year long reading plan that I started last January ended up stretching until like May of the next year because even getting the reading done was missing about one day for every two that I actually made.
Mediocre effort, mediocre results. Results… just not the big changes.
So then do I believe that if I truly made it an active pursuit, and truly put my passion into it, that I would get bigger results in response?
While not to the point of making the whole must do obligation for reward mentality leap, I do believe that the more I give it, the more that I will receive from it. So I do believe if I gave it my true dedicated effort, the results would be big.
And I do think that’s something that will happen for everyone if they give it the honest effort. And for some, that may be just geting through the reading… or just making the time to do the listening. And for others, it may take a bit more wrestling with it and actively processing.
So why don’t I?
Basically, because I’m both busy and lazy. I’ve got lots of other things going on that shouldn’t have priority but manage to get it anyway… and in the down time, I tend to prefer mindless things that require little thought or effort.
And I think the solution comes back to the same solution for diets… and for living the Christian life in general. And that’s to realize that it’s not the big decisions… its the accumulation of each and every little decision.
It’s not so much a decision to make Bible reading a goal, although that helps… it’s a decision in the moment to give this next 5..10..15 minutes to focusing on the Bible instead of whatever else I might be choosing to do with it.
And then to make that decision over and over.
And so I guess that I do believe that time spent reading the Bible daily will make changes in your life.
I just have qualms about making promises for big things without also making clear that your mileage may vary by how much you really want it to.