I didn't mean to study Romans for a year.
There was no year-long challenge. No 365 days of Romans study book. It simply sounded like a good idea at the time. This time last year I wrapped up studying Romans as part of an 8-week study. Two months of anything should yield something, right? But for me, I couldn't tell you a single thing I learned.
So I stayed. I hung out in Romans for a year. Reading, re-reading, copying scripture, reading the commentary, and other smart insights about this book of the Bible. In my heart, I wanted to know something deeper than facts and information. I wanted heart transformation, not head knowledge.
My usual habit was to consume, rinse, repeat. Over and over again, it was simply another study in a long line, changing pretty covers every other month. In fact, if you saw my bookshelf, you might even be sorta impressed with my row of books. But I didn't want to simply memorize a bunch of facts to sound smart at cocktail parties. What I most wanted was to be different as a result of spending time in the word of God.
Here I am a year later and I still can't quote any scripture from memory. But I would say that now when I hear a passage from Romans, it's like a familiar friend. The kind of friend you know really well and have a history. I hear the words and I know the hope behind them. I'm not saying I have it all figured out, but I can say it has shaped the way I see my life.
If I had to sum it up, I can say Romans is about two things if you follow Jesus - what to believe and how to behave. It's also a love letter that Paul sent ahead to his followers in preparation for his journey to Rome. He's telling his friends the good news and a sneak preview of what he's going to share when he sees them. In some ways, I think Romans might be part of the Greatest Hits Album of the Bible. If you had to pick only one book to go deep, it's a good one, as it covers much of the foundational aspects of Christian daily life.
What About You?
Romans is packed with so much goodness and wisdom, a year spent letting it saturate my heart hardly feels like enough at all. But don't take it from me. Read it for yourself. If I've learned anything, it's that the Bible is God's personal letter to you.
Whether you spend time in Romans or any other book of the Bible, show up with an expectant heart that God's got something good for you. Because He always does.