Everything was going smoothly as the divisional commander spoke to me about my ministry. It was December 1983, and I was in my second appointment as a Salvation Army officer. But when he asked me about my devotional life, I tried to avoid the question by giving excuses, the main one being that I had three small children under six years of age and another on the way. He said he understood, and was very kind about it all. But he gently encouraged me not to neglect this area of my life and to think and pray about it. He did not lay a guilt trip on me, for which I was thankful.
I took his advice and prayed about my spiritual walk. Soon after, I received some material about ordering The Daily Walk, a year-long devotional guide to reading the Bible. Then, in January 1984, I started to read the Bible from the beginning.
This January, I will commence reading through the Bible for the 28th time. Until I was asked to write this article, I had told very few that I read the Bible each year, for this is a private matter. However, perhaps in sharing this, it might help someone who is searching for some stability in their spiritual journey.
Reading the Bible cover to cover, year to year, has been foundational for me as an officer. Salvation Army officers do not choose our appointments. We do not choose when we are to move, where we will be living or what we will be doing in that new appointment. In all of the challenges and ministry opportunities of officership, reading God’s Word on a daily basis has kept me grounded and totally dependant upon him.
It has been foundational for me as a wife, and particularly as a mother. The Word gave me great stability when my children were young and I needed lots of physical energy. It was my resting place. It was where I was nourished, fed and re-energized. It was exactly what I needed in those very busy days. When they were growing up, reading through the Bible each year kept me connected to the Lord and helped me to be disciplined―to make time to be with God each day. When they were all teenagers, I really needed to know God was with me! So, as I heard him speak to me daily, it encouraged me and gave me hope and reassurance. Then, when it came time for the empty nest, the Word was my comfort. I knew I had to let my children go and entrusted each one of them into God’s care.
It has also been foundational in my personal and private life. We all change as we move through different stages of life. In my 50s, I’m a different person than I was in my 40s, and more so than when I was in my 30s. Of course, certain characteristics are the same; many personality traits are quite similar. But I look at life differently and see things from a different perspective. Although I have grown in my spiritual walk with the Lord, I am still human and mess up. As I read from his Word each day, it helps me to balance my life and see life through God’s eyes. It is mysterious in many ways; almost mystical.
This January, I look forward with great anticipation to commencing once again, for I know God will reveal new insights and speak to me through his Word.
Major Beverly Ivany is the writer of Words of Life, a daily devotional that is published three times a year by International Headquarters.
Read the Bible
• Find a translation of the Bible you will enjoy reading. You may want to vary the translation from year to year.
• If it helps to keep you on track, follow a set schedule of daily readings. An example is available at Salvationist.ca/readthebible.
• Some Bibles are already arranged into daily readings, so consider purchasing a one-year Bible.
• Numerous websites offer daily readings online. You can also register to have these e-mailed.
• There are iPhone, BlackBerry or other PDA applications that help you read the Bible in one year.
• Keep a daily journal, writing down what passage you read and what it meant to you.
• Make sure you set aside time for prayer.
• Don’t let this become a chore or a hassle. If trying to read the Bible in one year becomes a negative experience, pray about whether this discipline is right for you.