A First Born Reads The Bible

Written on

May 30, 2024

As a first-born child, I have always been a rule-follower and a parent-pleaser. In many ways, over the years, this has been a great grace. It has kept me out of a lot of trouble. It has kept me in a lot of people’s good opinions. It has also kept me captive by making sure I only colored inside the lines. I typically do what I am asked or expected to do.

This can get kinda sticky for me as a minister’s wife. Don’t get me wrong. We are serving an amazing church and her members have ONLY been supportive and encouraging of me and our kiddos. I know too well this isn’t always the case, and thank God for this grace too. My minister husband doesn’t put his expectations on me, but is continually faithful to pray and encourage my spiritual growth. No, this time, I am the one, with my first-born child tendencies that put all the expectations on myself.

My minister husband, Wally, started talking about this initiative back in the fall. I sincerely thought it was a good idea and encouraged him. He called it “66 in 52” and we both thought it would be a great practice for the congregation to read the 66 books of the Bible through in the 52 week of 2024. This practice is one Wally had been doing for several years and had found personal value in. We both acknowledged that it would be beneficial for our church by bringing unity through a practical way of proving our spoken devotion to the importance and power of God’s Word. To kick off this reading plan in January just seemed like a logical next-step following our prayer focus and coinciding with up-coming evangelism training.

So, what’s the issue? I didn’t want to do it. Yes, it has been a while since I had read the Bible through, but I was already daily in the word – meditating and memorizing. I was sensing the Spirit’s leading and feeling as though my plan was “working.” I didn’t want to replace my study for this. I didn’t want to add anything else onto by already overcrowded plate and overcommitted plans. I didn’t want to acknowledge that it might be a good thing. I didn’t want to admit that I might need it.

But, as Wally’s wife – to support him in front of the church and in the privacy of our own home, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. My first-born child, rule-follower, people pleaser personality forced me to pick up the packet and open my Bible to Genesis during that first week of January. My attitude was lousy. My spirit was self-righteous. My motivation was wrong.

As one might surmise from the fact that I am writing about this, God has redeemed my attitude, convicted me of my self-righteous sin and is still shaping my motivation.

Through the sweet ladies in our Wednesday evening study group, I have confessed my initial hesitancies and frustrations of committing to this reading plan. I told them how I didn’t see what benefit it would be for me to read through the long genealogies of the book of Numbers or the intricate design details of the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. Yet, I also shared with them how God patiently communicated to me that I wasn’t to read every page of the Bible to see what I could get out of it, but to see what I could learn about Him. For examples, His faithfulness through generations of people whose names I can’t pronounce, but He still knows and carries AND how worthy His holiness is of careful and deliberate praise in even the smallest details of how, when and where His presence is approached.

The plan has also given me accountability to make sure I do do it. The rule-follower part of me finds great satisfaction writing the date down next to the references in the box. Yet, it is this same satisfaction that the Spirit uses to gently nudge me to make sure my motivations for reading don’t slide into the dangerous slope of works-based, look-what-I-did, I-am-holier-than-you, I-am-closer-to-God-because – kind of mindset.

As we finish the 5th month, the plan has become habitual. It has become almost as intertwined into my morning routine as putting on my earrings. It is like how I feel a little incomplete, or as if I am missing something important, when I miss my time in His Word, like on those days I forget to slide on my hoops.

No, I am not finding some deep, meant-just-for-me-today, insights as I read each page. In fact, there have been quite a few days that leave me with questions as to why God would or wouldn’t do something else. Why would He include this? Why did He didn’t He tell us more about _______? Yet, even on those days I acknowledge that His ways are higher than mine and He cannot be contained by my limited and finite understanding. The Bible, and, in fact, this life of “mine,” isn’t about me at all. I acknowledged that back when I submitted “my” life back to Him. Reading “66 in 52” continues to force me to acknowledge these truths over and over again as I read.

While my own first-born child tendencies drug me into this Bible reading plan – with my bad attitude, my self-righteous sins, and my misplaced motivations – I have found that these are very things that the Spirit is changing to sanctify me (make me more like Jesus). He knew what He was doing by making me the first born. He ordained my birth order, knowing that in my 40s He would use it to address these short-comings of mine, as I felt forced into a Bible reading plan.

Turns out that this Bible Reading Plan was more for my good than I ever imagined. God is doing a whole lot more in me by reading His Word than I realized. This firstborn, ruler-follower, parent-pleaser has found another good grace in God’s sovereignty.

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