By Craig Bannister
The start of every New Year serves as an opportunity to get a fresh start on some personal goals and habits. Whether it’s losing weight, ditching social media, or something different altogether, January is the starting line.
As January was approaching, my wife Brilyn and I were facing a problem. Every day, we had every intention of doing a devotional together or reading scripture together, and almost every day we somehow found a way to be too busy to get it done. Midnight would always roll around and we would both agree it was too late and that we should get some sleep. I think it became a motivation problem for us. We had no problem spending a couple hours watching our favorite Netflix shows, but reading together for 15 minutes always seemed like a daunting task. We realized it wasn’t a busy problem so much as it was an “us” problem. If we took away Netflix, we had a huge window of time to read together. Stick with me here. I’m not saying your New Year’s resolution should be giving up Netflix. I’m just putting forward the idea that maybe we aren’t as busy as we think.
As a kid, when my parents wanted me to do a chore, they would withhold a reward until I completed it. For example, I couldn’t play video games until I got my homework done. Brilyn and I decided to implement the same kind of idea on ourselves. We haven’t stopped watching Netflix. We have just delayed watching it until we get our daily reading done. We’ve made it a habit to sit down and read together before we turn on Netflix.
I was recently at an event where a church was giving away free Bibles. They had Bibles for people of all ages free for the taking. As I looked over the table, I noticed a one-year Bible in chronological order. It struck me because I began a one-year Bible challenge in high school, and chose to read it in chronological order but failed to complete the challenge. I grabbed two copies and decided this is what Bryan and I would read each day. We started reading together soon after I picked them up sometime in late October, and we stuck with it. If the structure of an assigned reading everyday would help you, there are plans on the Bible App and all over the Internet. I personally enjoyed having a physical Bible with the plan built in.
The New Year has officially come, and though it’s not an official resolution, we have continued to hold each other accountable with our reading. In the beginning, it was all about getting our reading done so we could watch our favorite shows. Now, it’s turned into more of a discussion each night. We have questions and comments about things we are studying so it’s more than knocking a chore out of the way to get to something we want. We look forward to it now. It was never about dreading reading our Bibles in the first place. We read when we could, but it wasn’t consistent. However, this simple idea has helped us create a habit that we plan to carry through 2017 and beyond.
If you aren’t hopelessly addicted to Netflix like us but struggle reading your Bible daily, maybe something similar could help you stay consistent. It could even be as simple as setting a certain time every day to read or reading before a meal. It’s whatever works best for you. In our crazy busy lives, when we are deliberate, we can still set aside time and dig into our Bibles daily.