Summer is here! Welcome to vacation season. Time to put your feet up, let your hair down and relax. Whoever you are, I hope that you will have the opportunity over the next few months to leave behind the bustle of day-to-day life and take a few moments of downtime and rest.
Holidays are important for our mental, spiritual and physical health. We all need them. As Christians in particular, the art and discipline of rest is an important part of our spiritual formation. We cannot neglect it! The question, though, for this blog is: where do Bible reading plans fit into our summer holiday dreams?
The value of summer Bible reading
Engaging with our Bibles on vacation can often feel like a challenge. We want to switch off and be lazy, not study! The idea of summer Bible Reading plans can fill us with holiday dread. Isn’t rest all about doing nothing? If you’re anything like me, a Bible reading routine quickly goes flying out the window when holiday mode is on.
However, this is not necessarily healthy or even productive. While a vacation is important for taking a break from the stresses and demands of normal life, it is not a time to take a break from the source of life Himself, Jesus Christ. Although it may initially seem counterintuitive, engaging with the life-giving words of Scripture while on holiday can give us a deeper refreshment for our souls than we would have otherwise experienced.
Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Going to God (rather than ignoring Him) is the secret of finding real rest. God’s word is a gateway to true refreshment. Consequently, opening scripture can be one of the most fruitful holiday activities available. A summer Bible reading plan could be your best route to genuine refreshment and renewal this summer season.
We know this is often easier said than done, so here’s five tips to help you experience the reality of God’s transformative word while you are on vacation this year.
Five ways to successfully engage with summer Bible reading plans
1. Plan a new time
Once the holidays begin, all of your normal routines change. Perhaps you get up later in the morning or eat your meals at different times. You are not commuting like you normally do. The kids aren’t going to school. Put simply: everything is different. Consequently, we can’t expect our ‘normal’ Bible reading routines to stay the same. We are going to need to intentionally re-plan. Where does quiet time fit into your holiday schedule? When are the best moments to sneak away to have some alone time with Jesus and His word? If you actively schedule it in, you are much more likely to do it. Don’t be passive!
2. Do it with friends
Do you struggle with motivation to read the Bible? Why not rope in a couple of mates to go on a scriptural journey with across the summer. Whether they are spending some holiday time with you in person, or whether you can just touch base on a video call, summer Bible reading with friends can be a productive and life-giving activity. Life is always best done in community! You could choose to go through a book of the Bible or a devotional together, then meet to chat about it. Or you could commit to sending each other a thought each day or week that stood out to you as you read scripture. Bringing friends into the picture brings accountability. It will help you to build the Bible reading habit that you know can help you! Send a text to someone today and get the ball rolling…
3. Mix it up
Feelings of guilt or compulsion are terrible reasons to open God’s holy word. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! His word is a source of joy and a route to intimacy, not a stick to beat us with. As you consider your summer Bible reading plans, why not think imaginatively about ways that you can make your time with Scripture more interesting and enjoyable? You don’t have to do the same thing every day! Variety is the spice of life… and indeed of any relationship.
We live in a world filled with articles, books and podcasts that can help us to explore and dive deeper into the fascinating ecosystem of Scripture. Hebrews 4:12 tells us God’s word is “living and active”. We want to experience that! Why not take an audio version of the Bible out on a walk with you? Or use a journal to creatively engage with the Scriptures you are reading? Keep things fresh and you will hopefully start to actively look forward to your time with the Bible.
4. Use nature
Vacations often involve us ending up in different environments to those we are normally used to. Perhaps we are in a new city, or by a beach or in the hills somewhere. These new surroundings can be a prompt for us to see God in different ways than those we are used to. Consequently, you can use your holiday location as a valuable tool to help you bring your Bible reading alive. Take your Bible to a beautiful viewpoint. Watch a sunrise and read a Psalm. Open the word by the sea and take in the majesty of the ocean. God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and His wasord explodes off the page as we engage with it in nature. Take the Bible on the road and ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read it this summer!
5. Use apps
Technology has helped to make Bible reading more accessible, understandable and innovative than ever before. Apps like YouVersion, the Bible Project and of course Glorify mean that we can be inspired to engage with Scripture in so many different ways. We have a wealth of devotionals, scriptural meditations and worship tracks right at the tip of our fingers. This year, choose to make the most of what is available to you! Apps are useful for reading the Bible on vacation for a multitude of reasons, not least that they don’t take up any extra space in your luggage! Why not download Glorify for your vacation this year and resolve to use it. It could be the habit you need to guide you into the depths of refreshment that Scripture provides for us.
Final thoughts on vacation Bible plans
With a slight tweak to our perspective, we can learn to see vacations as a God-given opportunity to be reminded of the sweetness of life with Jesus. His inspired Word can be the refreshing water that our thirsty souls desperately need. His presence can be the source of the rest that we have been craving. As your vacation comes around this year, consider the value of a summer Bible reading plan. It could transform your next few months.