I was twenty years old, fresh into my junior year at my Christian college, when Dr. Dorsett — an aging professor with a shock of white hair and thick spectacles — startled me into paying attention.
He held a Bible above his head and asked us, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you haven’t read every page of this book? If you don’t even know what’s in here?” His tone was kind, but his words were piercing. He was asking us to own our faith.
His words dumbfounded me.
I had grown up in the church, and had read parts of the Bible during my growing-up years. But here, as a young woman, I realized that I hadn’t ever read the Bible cover-to-cover. I’d read bits here and chapters there, but I hadn’t read much of the Old Testament, and I’d never read all of the New. It dawned on me, there in that class, that I was basing my life on a book that I hadn’t fully read — and suddenly, that admission stunned me. Who bases their life on a book but doesn’t read all of it? Did I even know what I believed?
And so, that very week, I started a one-year Bible-reading plan and began my journey into reading the Bible all the way through.
At first, reading several chapters a day felt overwhelming — going from reading a few verses here and there to actually reading whole chunks of the Word felt like going from talking a walk around the block to training for a marathon. My spiritual muscles were weak, and it was difficult on many days to keep my mind and heart engaged. Don’t even get me started on the book of Numbers; it’s a miracle I kept going!
But what I found, as I kept my nose in the folds of those crinkly, thin pages of my Bible, was that I was meeting God—actually meeting with Him! I wasn’t solely reading about Him or learning about Him: I was encountering the Lord on every page. I found myself — a woman who would sleep until noon if I could — excited about getting up an hour before class to read those chapters and experience the character and kindness and truth of God in the mornings. And it spilled over into everything else; I found myself talking about the Word constantly, found its truths and stories seeping into my life and my thoughts and my hopes.
Reading the Bible consistently that year absolutely transformed me.
As I read through the Old Testament alongside of the New Testament, I began to see the incredible seamlessness of God’s plan for salvation from the beginning. I saw how Jesus was promised in the Old Testament, and how His coming fulfilled those very promises. I wept as I read of the tenderness of Christ with His followers, and I thrilled when I saw the early church walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. This! This was how my faith was strengthened and deepened as a young woman — not because I had grown up in the church or because I had always been a Christian, but because I was tasting and seeing the goodness of God right in front of me, in His living Word.
I was living what I read about in Hebrews 4:12:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Bible became active in my life, and it shaped my heart and my mind so that I more fully developed the mind of Christ. As I experienced Him, I loved Him more. As I read about God, I wanted to walk with Him more closely.
More than any experience I’ve ever had with God, reading the Bible all the way through that year caused me to love the Lord and trust Him more. I’m so grateful for a professor who was willing to ask a challenging question; discovering the answer by reading the Word is what utterly transformed my life.