“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”Charles W. Eliot
There is a myriad of reading challenges out there. As I have previously mentioned, my favorite is the Goodreads challenge which allows me to pick the number of books I want to read in a year, and I can pick whatever books I like. This year I am keeping it simple with a minimum of 35 books, but I can certainly read more.
In addition to this challenge, however, I have also decided to read the Catholic Bible in its entirety for 2023. I’m already a Hallow App member so I joined Father Mike Schmitz’s Bible in A Year podcast and I’m following the readings from the Ascension website. I enjoy reading the passages and listening to Fr. Mike’s commentary; I’m already learning new perspectives to the stories I have read repeatedly. I participated in the Methodist programs Disciple 1 and 2, I’ve completed my four years of Education for Ministries courses (EfM) and I have a Master of Arts in Religion, so I have a solid foundation I am building upon.
A friend wrote a Facebook post about reading the Bible in its entirety every few years. This was her goal for 2022. This got me to thinking. I’ve already read the entire Protestant Bible several times from King James to NIV versions, but I hadn’t read all the Apocrypha, the seven additional Old Testament books in the Catholic Bible. (Well, seven pertaining to Roman Catholics, at least. The history is extensive. And no, I haven’t learned Hebrew of Greek. My readings are from English translations.)
Currently we finished reading one of my favorite characters in the Old Testament: Joseph. Genesis 37:3 states, “Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons, because he had been born to him when he was old. He made a long robe with full sleeves for him.” He had ten older brothers who became jealous of Joseph due to their father’s obvious favoritism.
His story is of constant struggle: his jealous brothers planned to kill him, but instead attacked him and sold him into slavery. He was also falsely accused by his master’s wife and unjustly served a prison sentence. Each time Joseph was struck down, God was still with him. Joseph continued to love and serve God even as a slave and even as a prisoner. Joseph never gave up hope and became his best wherever life placed him. He didn’t become bitter against God. Eventually, due to his God-given ability to interpret dreams, he was able to correctly interpret the Pharoah’s dreams and gave a plan for Egypt to save for the seven years of plenty for the nation to survive the seven years of famine. Joseph became second only to the Pharoah. This is a rag to riches story if ever there was one.
Also, the family ties were eventually restored. Joseph tested his brothers and saw they had changed, and he forgave them. Joseph rejoiced and wept for joy upon meeting his younger brother Benjamin. Jacob was happily reunited with his sons and the entire family moved to Egypt during the famine and prospered. Unfortunately, 200+ years later (or 400 or 430) Jacob’s descendants would be forced into slavery until Moses had to rescue them, but that is a story for another day.
I absolutely love Joseph’s enduring faith. Despite the betrayals and hardships in his life, he was deeply humbled and continued to serve the Lord. He gave his best no matter what. And through it all? God was there!
Occasionally, I will be sharing what we are reading on future blog posts. This will help me be accountable and share my experiences of the Bible. It is full of inspiration but is also stories of brokenness and heart break. Yet, God is with us through it all.
Stories teach us about life and about ourselves, which is one reason I encourage you to find some kind of reading plan. Whether you choose a Spiritual reading path or a secular one, (or both) find something that feels right to you. The first time I attempted to read the entire Bible, for example, I felt it became more of a chore and a checklist. Likewise, reading 100 books a year made me miserable, as I found I like time to slow down and savor books. I also needed to occasionally take time before starting another book if the previous one was very emotional. I had to find more creative ways, and on occasion, take classes to make myself accountable and to learn more about what I was reading. A book club allowed me to explore other genres and granted me a larger scope than I had practiced previously. Book clubs are available at churches, libraries and online. Feel free to start one, if you wish.
I saw a plan where someone decided to read one comic book a week, which made my Marvel loving heart happy. Hello, Spiderman and Captain America! Find whatever works best for you and enjoy it. Set a goal but find room for flexibility. Most of all, take precious time for yourself.
“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.”Helen Keller
Old Testament Joseph found in Genesis 37:1–50:26.
Bible in a Year Reading Plan Bible Reading Plan | Download Delivery – Ascension (ascensionpress.com)
The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz) on Apple Podcasts
Why are Protestant and Catholic Bibles different? | Christian History | Christianity Today
50 DIY Reading Challenges for Every Kind of Reader (bookriot.com)
EfM link Education for Ministry | School of Theology | University of the South (sewanee.edu)
Disciple Bible Studies | Biblical Studies | Cokesbury
2022 Reading Challenge in Review – In Thought, Word & Deed (katierea.com)
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