Earlier this week I came across a puny piece of paper with the words Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation scribbled sideways. I don’t recall jotting them down but I’ve no doubt as to the Prompter. 

Although I’m only half-way through my latest Kindle download, I appreciate how Ruth Haley Barton tenderly sifts through the truths of spiritual transformation, slowing her reader down to receive fresh approaches to prayer and engaging scripture.

As a goal-oriented person, my tendency is to feel gratified after reading through set chapters of the Bible in order to finish it in a year—but is that to be my end goal? Reading through the Bible in a year? Don’t get me wrong. Doing so is beneficial for us all on many levels and I’m glad I’ve done it (even that sounds like a ✓ – sigh!), but as I often share in our community group, it’s never about information—but rather, transformation. 

One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 15:16: 

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty.

When a meal is enjoyable we naturally slow down, savoring each bite. In the same way, Ruth suggests reading only six to eight verses, which increases the likelihood of ingesting the Word rather than simply reading them. In Sacred Rhythms, she provides questions to ask God and ourselves as we move through the verses. This does not replace our need for indepth studying of the Word. It’s simply one more way we can engage God via scripture throughout the day. 

As we look ahead to 2014, I hope we’re found having God’s Word at the top of our reading list. The Holy Spirit longs to reveal this Word that is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, but we must access it. Whether by chunks or bites, it matters not. Just do it — for it is our joy and heart’s delight. 

So as we begin this new year, in addition to the Bible, what’s your first read of 2014?