Forced Obedience Leads to Delight

Forced Obedience Leads to Delight

As we move into 2024, I am going back in time to 2021 to re-adopt a rule that has fallen by the wayside. 

I have written before about implementing a rule that seemed lazy at first, but worked well to help me intentionally rest and enjoy the Sabbath. And back in 2021, I did the same thing and forced myself to read through the Bible. 

Let me explain. 

As the calendar rolled from 2020 into 2021, there was a significant shift in the way I saw my Bible. Like many believers, I took this Book for granted. What ought to be valuable, beloved, and held in high regard was gathering dust on my shelf. But after a year when many were sequestered away to worship virtually and maintained a steady diet of worry or fear, my Bible looked different to me than just something I should read. It became a question of why aren’t I reading this? 

Over many years of walking with the Lord, I never consistently read his word daily, or ever read the whole thing. I came to realize that while there was a respect for the Bible – even an acknowledgement that every word is true, beneficial, and powerful – there was a lack of love for it in my life. I love the way Pastor Matt expressed it in this blog: Because God’s word is so valuable, we are fools to keep it on the shelf and out of our hearts.

So, a few days before 2021 started, and realizing that I was missing out on a feast, I decided to start small. To make a habit that stuck, I made two small rules: I followed a Bible reading plan, and I needed to read my Bible in the morning. And for many mornings in January and February, I forced myself to read my Bible. There were some mornings when I only did it because I should. 

These small rules helped grow a love for God’s Word in my heart that had never been present before. Even better, it felt like I got to share that love with my kids, who got to read many mornings with me on our sofa. (During that time of my life, the rule worked because I was already reading with them – they got to pick two books they wanted to read, and then I got to read my Bible.) By choosing to follow a plan, the passages were determined for me, rather than trying to read from cover to cover (and subsequently losing interest quickly after starting the minor prophets). 

As the year unfolded, I was amazed. This Book – with so many familiar stories and “rules” and “boring” sections (spoiler, they weren’t boring) – took on a whole new dimension. I never imagined that so many things could jump out at me in a whole new way! 

But that’s God, isn’t it? He delights to reveal himself, to showcase his glory, to promote his radiance. He delights in making rules a joy to follow. 

There are many Christian habits that we convince ourselves we should do, and feel guilty when we don’t do them. But sometimes building habits happens because we say I’ll make myself do this and then watch the delight increase. I have witnessed a love of serving, tithing, praying, evangelizing, all yield good fruit in believers’ lives work like this over the years. It’s a reminder that God is powerful to grow His fruit in us when we walk in obedience – even when that obedience is sometimes grudgingly started. 

If the Lord used 2021 to show me that I’ll never outgrow delighting in his word, he’s used subsequent years to remind me that consistently reading the Bible is still something I have to work at. Just like every relationship, I’ll never reach a point in my walk with him that it will be easy to obey all the time. But even when I may not “feel like” obeying, I trust that when God says to do something He will add joy to the task. 

At the outset of 2024, I’m committing again to reading my Bible every day, and read it through again over the next year. Will you join me? Let’s savor the words and things revealed from this God we love, and follow him. 


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