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The grand story

My exhilarating trek through the Bible in 90 days

by Perry Engle

I knew it would be an arduous task: reading the entire Bible cover to cover in 90 days. It’s a big book, and I’m lazy by nature, but I needed a jump-start in my tired and oh-so-predictable relationship with God. To get through the 66 books, 1,189 chapters, and 30,442 verses, I had to average 12 pages a day for three months. Admittedly, I began the journey with a mixture of anticipation and dread.

I’ve always enjoyed Genesis and Exodus: the stories are familiar and the characters engaging. But Leviticus and Numbers are grueling, with their focus on the sacrificial system and the seemingly endless tallying of the clans of Israel. The narratives of the kings of Israel and Judah left me worn out, wondering how God could persevere in his relationship with such an idolatrous band of evil-doers. In contrast, I found solace in the wisdom and introspection of Solomon, especially Ecclesiastes, which is easily one of my favorite biblical books.

It was a long slog through the Major Prophets—Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel—166 exhausting chapters in all. By the time I reached Ezekiel’s dizzying vision of the “wheel intersecting a wheel” (1:16), I needed a break. I started to lag in my reading but caught my second wind with Daniel and his compelling, countercultural sojourn in Babylonian exile.

. . . in order for me to build my life on the truth of Scripture, I first need to lose myself in its transformative story.

Even as the Old Testament closes under threat of a curse—the prophet Malachi’s warning that God will “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children” and “strike the land with a curse” (4:5–6)—the New Testament dawns with a sunburst of exuberant hope. Having just traversed 850 pages and 2,000-plus years of Jewish history, the genealogy of Jesus that introduces Matthew’s gospel made more sense to me than ever before. Through this lineage the writer seemed to exclaim, “Here He is! The fulfillment of our entire history, the redeemer of our sins!”

I flew through the remaining Gospels, found myself captivated by Acts, and was thoroughly warmed by the Epistles. By the time I reached Revelation, it was as if I was running downhill with fireworks lighting up the night sky.

In Scripture’s penultimate chapter, as Jesus announces, “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:5), I realized that not only had I finished reading the Bible in just over 12 weeks, but I had also rediscovered the heart of God and the depth of His love for the world in the expanse of His grand story. From beginning to end, my journey revealed a humanity that is eternally lost and universally broken. But more importantly, it provided me with a panoramic view of a God who never wearies in His unrelenting attempt to save us from our own worst enemy: ourselves.

No other activity in recent memory has impacted my spiritual life more profoundly than reading through the Bible in 90 days. The experience was a reminder that in order for me to build my life on the truth of Scripture, I first need to lose myself in its transformative story.

Indeed, my journey from Genesis to Revelation taught me that Jesus is constantly in the process of making everything new—always has been and forever will be.

This article originally appeared in the fall 2014 issue of In Part magazine.
Perry Engle

Perry Engle is bishop of the Midwest and Pacific Regional Conferences. He and his wife, Marta, and their family live in Ontario, Calif. Perry heartily recommends the Bible in 90 Days program to anyone who wants to grow in their faith.

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