Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Traditionally people give things up for the forty days before Easter, but I want you to get something instead. I want you to get closer to Jesus, to become more familiar with God's Word, to feel more of his love. (Coincidentally, that is the purpose of fasting too. Every time you refrain from indulging in the luxury that you usually have, it makes you think of why you are doing it, and makes you thankful for Christ's sacrifice for you.)
In previous posts, I have talked about reading plans, and how following them can bog us down and make us feel guilty when we don't keep up. This is especially true if your goal is to start in Genesis and read through the Bible in one year. A lot of people never make it through Leviticus. However, I have also constantly said--and it's the whole reason this blog post exists--that we need to read more of God's Word. We don't have to do it in a particular order, or at a particular rate, we just have to do it more.
What I am proposing to you today is kind of a compromise between those two options. Today I received an e-mail from Margaret Feinberg. She and a few others have joined together to do the #LentChallenge. The challenge is to read the four gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--during Lent. That's 89 chapters in 40 days (Sundays aren't counted in the fasting schedule), so just over two chapters a day. If you think that's more than you can do, aim to read through one of the gospels. Pick whichever one you like best, for whatever reason. Just spend some time reading about, thinking about, praying about the life of Jesus. Once you understand his purpose for coming to Earth, and his reason for going to the cross, you will be overwhelmed by how much he loves you. If you do this, Easter will become more meaningful than you've ever imagined.
Margaret has a reading plan that she'll send you if you sign up for the RSS feed at her site. Or, if you have the YouVersion app, you can search for a plan that suits you, using the keyword "Lent" or "gospels". YouVersion has a plan that will take you through all four gospels in 30 days, so you will have a few days of grace if you choose that one, and the app makes it easy to catch up. I am currently using YouVersion's chronological plan for reading the Bible through in a year (no I didn't start in January), and I just happened to reach the beginning of the gospels yesterday. (It's day 274.) Since it's chronological, I'll be alternating between the gospels as I go, but I should arrive at the same destination just at the right time. Whatever plan you use, my challenge to you is to make reading the gospels during Lent your goal. If you would like to share with others who are doing the same, use the hashtag #LentChallenge.
May you be filled with God's unfathomable love this Easter season.