What Running A Half-Marathon Taught Me About Bible-Reading

Two weeks ago I ran a half-marathon. I use the term “run” very loosely. My pace waffled somewhere between slow jog and barely moving. Maybe it would be better to say I “completed” a half-marathon…then I don’t have to feel so guilty about taking a bathroom break just before the second mile.

Nevertheless, I did something that one year ago seemed impossible. At this time last year I literally (and I do mean literally) could not run/slow jog/barely move, more than a mile. So now on the other side of the half-marathon I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what it was that enabled me to be able to complete such a task.

Now switch gears with me for a second.

For many of us, consistent Bible-reading seems like an impossible task. Let’s face it, the Bible can be hard to read. It’s an ancient book written to people in ancient times, and, much like running, the activity, at times, can be boring.

So how can we motivate ourselves and those in our families to actually read it?

Here’s where three of my half-marathon reflections may be able to help us.

1. Get a plan

One big reason I was able to complete the half-marathon was because I had a running plan. The plan told me when to run and how far to run each day. It also started off super easy and gradually increased in difficulty as the weeks went on.

The same principles can apply to reading the Bible. You need a plan– one that tells you when to read and how much to read on each day. And you need a plan that starts at your currently ability. I love the “read through the Bible in a year” plans, but, let’s face it, for most people that requires a lot of reading each day. So why not start with a “read through the Bible in three years” plan, or five years. What’s the rush? It’s not about who can read the whole Bible first, it’s about  finding a daily routine that works for you where you are now.

2. Get a community

There is no way I would have stuck with my half-marathon plan if I didn’t have so many encouraging runners in my life. So many people who regularly asked me how my running was going. People who were “further along” that were available and very willing to give advice when I had questions.  And people willing to help and pray for me when training got tough.

When it comes to reading our Bible, we need a community that will encourage us, hold us accountable, answer questions, help us, and pray for us. Parents, be the community for your kids. Students, be the community for your friends. Christians, be the community for other Christians. Just like any other discipline, Bible-reading will happen when we feel we belong to a community.

3. Give yourself grace

During the half-marathon, I had a moment as I was running across the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit into Canada. I looked to my left and watched the sunrise coming up over the city and it was just beginning to reflect on the water below me. In that moment it hit me, “I am not running this for time. I don’t need to rush through this.”  At that moment, everything changed. Instead of trying to get a “good time” or concern myself with how I was doing compared to others around me, I just focused on enjoying the race.

We often need to do the same thing when it comes to reading the Bible. We need to slow down and give ourselves the grace just to enjoy the Word of God as the Word of God. It doesn’t matter if we don’t read as fast or know as much as others. It’s okay if we miss a day or two (or, God-forbid, a week) of our reading plan. It’s not about “winning.” God still loves us. The Bible is God’s gift of grace to us.  We don’t read the Bible just for facts or even just for life application. We read the Bible to know God more to enjoy God more.

I pray these principles will help you as you read God’s Word more. And I pray, whether you’re reading at what feels like a slow jog or even just barely moving, you would feel the joy of completing a plan, being encouraged by your community, and resting in the grace God has for you each day.