The Poop Challenge (It’s not what you think!)

Posted: March 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve mentioned earlier this year that I’m taking another stab at a project I have attempted many times in my life but never, ever completed:  reading through the Bible in a year.  This time around, I’m doing my “reading” by listening.  I’ve found a website where I can show up every day and listen for about 20 minutes as the reader goes through something from the Old Testament, something from the New Testament, something from Psalms, and something from Proverbs.  I listen while I make my bed and shower.

This technique is really working well for me.  Anytime I want to be really sure I’ll do something consistent, I tend to put it here at the beginning of my day.  That’s a strategy that helps to overcome my procrastination tendencies, by which I’ve sabotaged many things in my life.

The Old Testament portion of what I’m reading right now is currently in the book of Numbers.  I thought Leviticus was hard to get through – holy smokes, Numbers is even harder!  If I were picking up my Bible and reading the words, I’d be in great danger of quitting right now.  The gift of just listening is getting me through.

I know I’m not doing this half-heartedly because of this measure:  this time around is including some of the most difficult interactions I can remember having with scripture.  It has taken me out of the most familiar and easy passages for me – the stories I’ve been learning my whole life in church – and into the less familiar.  Once in awhile I encounter something that I swear I’ve never read or even heard of before, like the part in Numbers that addresses what will be done when a husband feels jealous and his wife is not ‘fessin up to cheating – that was weeks ago by now and I’m STILL struggling with what I’m supposed to do with that passage.  Even among the scriptures that I’ve traveled countless times, I’m hearing nuances and details that I don’t recall catching before – things that leave me with questions or “aha moments” more days than not.

It’s a great process, which I guess God saved for me for a time when I’m strong enough in my faith that having WTF moments, some of which drag on for weeks, won’t derail my belief or cause me to question His goodness.  I’m really glad I’m doing it, and it feels like I will likely make it all the way through this time around.  And hey – once I’ve listened through in a year, maybe I’ll be better ready to take another try at reading through!

Our pastors have just spent 6 weeks leading us through an amazing series on spiritual warfare, based on a really great book that I’m reading on my lunch breaks and am mostly through.  I recommend it highly.  A thing I love about it is that it’s not so much all out there in “woo woo” land (a place I sometimes love), but is deeply practical.  We’ve been learning in the weekly messages about each piece of our spiritual armor as described in Ephesians.    Really, each piece comes back in one way another to the need to read, know, and let our thoughts and lives be shaped by scripture.

Toward that end, this past Sunday our pastor did his thing in his usual hilarious but eminently practical and achievable way:  he issued “The Poop Challenge.”  He noted that someone in his family had kept a Bible in the bathroom and did his read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program daily during his morning constitutional, getting it done despite working an unreasonably long work day and having every excuse to be “too busy” to make the attempt.

Our pastor pointed out that we are more likely to succeed in things for which we find the “minimum effective dose” – a few minutes daily of something, rather than a huge, lofty goal of an hour a day.  The Poop Challenge meets this criteria – even if one doesn’t want to jump into trying to read the Bible in a year, just reading some scripture – ANY scripture – each day while stuck in sit position is a recipe for success in what it offers us toward developing a much-needed discipline of meditating on scripture.

If you’re feeling icky about the idea of keeping a Bible in the bathroom (I think about G’s synagogue, where signs expressly forbid taking holy things into bathrooms at all), you’ve probably got a phone with a Bible app, right?  It’s just a matter of going there instead of over to Facebook – and hey, don’t pretend you don’t go to Facebook on your phone in the bathroom!  🙂

This time around, I don’t need The Poop Challenge, since I’m listening through.  But next year, who knows?  It could be a useful strategy.  That’s why I share it here – maybe it’s something you can pick up today, if you’re struggling like so many of us do to fit scripture into your busy life!

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