The Fourth Time is the Charm
By Elizabeth Schmus
What would you do if I told you that there was one simple habit which would improve your life in these dramatic ways if you practiced it at least four times a week:
- 30 percent drop in feeling lonely
- 32 percent drop in anger issues
- 40 percent drop in bitterness in relationships
- 57 percent drop in alcoholism
- 68 percent drop in sex outside of marriage
- 60 percent drop in feeling spiritually stagnant
- 61 percent drop in viewing pornography
- 200 percent jump in sharing your faith
- 230 percent jump in discipling others
According to Jeff Martin in his book, Empower 40,000 people ages eight to eighty were polled about their Bible engagement. For people engaging with the Bible once, twice or even three times a week, little change occurred in their lives. But once people read the Scripture four times a week, the effects spiked dramatically in the ways listed above
I don’t know about you, but this research breathed new life, new motivation, into my yearly resolution to read the Bible daily. It also took the sting out of my usual failure to read it everyday. Even if I missed up to three days a week, the effects of my attempt to get in the word daily would be dramatic!
I remember one year when I had determined to read through the entire Bible in a calendar year. It felt like I was getting to the most difficult part of the journey at the most excruciating time in my life. I can still distinctly remember sitting in the hospital room reading my Bible and coming to this passage in Ezekiel 24:15-17, “The word of the Lord came to me (Ezekiel): “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet, do not cover your mustache and beard or eat the customary food of mourners.” Whoa! How had I not noticed this before? Ezekiel was forbidden to mourn for his wife. This sounded impossible! Despite my own “impossible” situation of watching my newborn son cling to what remained of his short life, immediately I was filled with gratitude that the Lord was not asking this of me. At least I would be allowed to mourn! It’s hard to explain how God took a seemingly dry and unrelated read through Ezekiel and turned it into a profoundly emotional experience that met me and sustained me in my darkest hour.
When I returned to daily classroom teaching a few years back, I often woke up feeling anxious about the day ahead and yet it was almost impossible for me to add Bible reading to my morning routine that usually started in the dark. I would listen to CEAI’s Karen Seddon’s 180 Days Around the Word podcast in the morning as I got ready and drove to school each morning. Somehow the verses from the morning would just pop into my head throughout the day, keeping me anchored in the truth of God’s word despite the stress often swirling around me.
Woodrow Kroll, former president of the organization, Back to the Bible, stated, “Read the Bible for instruction. Read it for inspiration. Read it for insight. Read it out of duty. Read it out of curiosity, Read it out of wonder. Whatever you do, read it. Not to read the Bible is to misunderstand God’s mind and miss his heart.”
With Bible versions abounding and technology at our fingertips, it is easier than ever to engage with God’s word each day. We can listen to it, read it ourselves, subscribe to reading plans, join social media groups, color our way through our Bibles, and so much more. So how will you engage with God’s word at least 4 times per week this year?
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” Psalm 119:105 (NIV).
Elizabeth Schmus has a B.A. in English from Pepperdine University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Biola University. She currently serves CEAI alongside her husband David of 29 years. While she’s taught elementary to college professionally in public and private schools, her favorite teaching assignment has been homeschooling their three daughters.