I love looking ahead to the New Year. I enjoy the chance to reflect, review and to set my hopes and plans before God for the year ahead.
Reading this year
I am not a reader. Before I was 21, the only book I'd read from choice was while I was at primary school. It was Cops and Robbers and it was brilliant. :-) Since God took hold of my desires I have had a deep thirst to read. I have found that this is one channel through which the Spirit of God brings deep conviction, revelation and real joy into my life.
Every Christmas I ask for and receive great books which are truly life giving. This year my in-laws bought me Don Carson How Long, Oh Lord? and some of my closest friends bought me a wide margin ESV Bible. I can't wait to get stuck into this. I'm going to read and scribble and note all over it! I find reading 'with a pen' so helpful.
Sometimes I do feel like I have so much to read and so little time! I want to read every book and learn as much as I can. At times it can feel a little bit overwhelming. I can get frustrated and start rushing my reading and not get much from it. I know that my wife often feels like this.
Little and often goes a long way
This Christmas I have been reading John Piper Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. I was really encouraged by one of his chapters on reading: "One of the most helpful discoveries I have made is how much can be read in disciplined blocks of twenty minutes a day.
Suppose you read slowly, say 250 words a minute (as I do). That means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read twelve and a half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year. Or take a longer classic like John Calvin's Institutes (1500pages) ...you could finish it in 25 weeks. Then Augustine's The City of God and B.B. Warfields Inspiration and Authority of the Bible could be finished before the year's end."
A Reading Plan
My goals for the New Year include a reading plan for the sake of my soul and all those who I love. Among the busyness of work, being a husband, dad, and seeking to encourage my wife to keep reading, I found Piper's observation very encouraging. Many of us have demanding jobs and family lives, but twenty minutes seems 'very doable' and many will be able to do more which means we will find much treasure in our reading this year. :-)