Growing up, I remember hearing the Bible being read aloud in church and wondering how I would ever connect to what seemed to be such a complicated collection of stories. There were so many rules, so many unpronounceable names, and so many story lines that felt fanciful. But, one thing was very clear to me among the confusion: God.

I believed that He was real and that He really did love me. I could see proof of that in my house. I would find my parents reading their Bibles regularly at home and would hear them sharing what they’ve learned with us. All I knew was that, even though a lot of the story details went over my head, the truth about how big God was and how He sent Jesus out of His love for me was enough for me to want to know the Bible more.

But, for most of my life, up until my children were born, I treated the Bible with great care, reading it as if my Christian status was wrapped up in how often I read it and how much of it I applied. It was still intimidating to me; reading felt more like a sacred ritual and less like simply sitting in the presence of my Greatest Love.

My whole world was turned upside down in October of 2012. In that difficult season, I found myself completely alone, with little hope to be found in my own strength. My husband seemed so calm and collected through the ordeal, but my heart was broken. I found myself waking up early, desperate for God for the first time in my life. I opened His Word expecting to find the rules and regulations for living a better life, but instead, I found one grand story of a Savior Who wasn’t just the Redeemer of all mankind, but the Redeemer of my broken season. He met me there, in His Word every morning, and my heart grew desperate for more of Him.

I pray that it does not take a season of brokenness for you to discover God in His Word the way that it happened for me. But if it does, I want to encourage you to chase Him fiercely through it. Be relentless, fix your eyes on the truth of Who He is so that any misconceptions can disappear and you can be filled with the hope that comes only from Him.

This past year, it was a privilege to be able to complete the swHw 2018 Bible reading plan. It was never a perfect journey, but I know that I will never be the same because of what I discovered about God. If you’re reading the 2019 Bible reading plan, or following your own plan this year, here’s what I want you to know:

All it takes is one step towards God to see Him working in your life.

Get out of bed when your alarm goes off, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and invite God into the moments of the day as you open His Word. This routine changed my life this year. It took the first initial step on day one, then a second step on day two, and so on. God doesn’t wait to move in your life until you’ve had a certain number of Bible reading days under your belt. God doesn’t wait until you understand Scripture to work in your life. Shake off those lies and understand that God says,

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”(Prov. 8:17)

If you don’t own your faith, you’ll never feel real ownership in God’s promises.

You can be encouraged by what others discover in God’s Word, but you’ll never experience the day-to-day transformation that God has intended for you if you depend on other people’s takeaways. You cannot depend on the faith of your parents or grandparents. You cannot depend on the faith of your pastor or other leaders in your church. No one else’s faith can earn you a “well done” at the end of your life. Don’t miss another moment! God’s promises are for you. Open His Word and rest in what He has already done for you.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” Psalm 34:8

Tasting requires taking a bite. Seeing requires opening your eyes and fixing them on something.

Reading God’s Word, talking with Him in prayer, and serving His people are all ways to taste and see. God doesn’t hide Himself from us, so let’s step into a new rhythm of meeting with Him this year.

This is what we are called to. This is how we see that God is good and that He created us with purpose. And friends, you cannot develop a hunger for God’s Word apart from reading it. The truths that you find will sustain you, and the irresistible love of God will draw you in, day after day, year after year.

If you’re motivated to start reading His Word, then you will taste and see the goodness of our God. This will create a hunger for more of Him that will grow into a love story that cannot be denied by those around you. Take the first step, and before you know it, you will have read the entire Bible in a year. And the prize? It’s not the accomplishment, but rather the discipline that turns into your favorite time of day and the transformation of your heart that shines for everyone to see.

It’s going to be a very bright 2019!