Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Memorize This

Since my Sunday School years, I have been taught to memorize Bible verses.

Memorize this one for when you’re feeling lonely.  Memorize that one for when you need encouragement.  This one’s to remind you where you came from; that one’s to remind you where you’re going. Stay strong – stay in the Word!  Hold God’s words dear to your heart; house them deep inside and he will never leave you.  If you’re ever in prison you can count on these words to carry you through.  Haven’t you ever heard the stories of the persecuted hanging onto Scripture as if their very lives depended on it?

Because they did.  And yours does too.  Quick!  Memorize before you’re in a situation where all you have to subsist on is your memory of the Bible!  What, you haven’t memorized any Bible verses?

What kind of Christian doesn’t memorize Scripture?

All you have to do is meditate.  Sit with God’s word for a few minutes or hours.  Eventually it will become part of your soul and when you are prompted, you will be amaze everyone with your steel-trap of a mind.

Okay.  Um, “The Lord Is My Shepherd.  I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures… he does something something about water – leads me beside the cool streams – and then he soothes… my… soul?  I am walking through the valley of the death.  Okay, that’s wrong.  How about this one: Love God with all your mind and all your heart and all your soul and every fiber of your being.  No.  Not right.  How about: I can do all things through God – no, Christ – who supports me.  No, wait.   Strengthens me.  Boom.  Got one right.  Philippians 4:13.  Right?  RIGHT?”

Memorization is hard, y’all.

Clearly I’m not a good Christian; I haven’t taken the time to memorize Scripture.  I can’t even recite the 23rd Psalm, for goodness’ sake.  Clearly it’s not in my heart.  Clearly I haven’t taken the time to meditate sufficiently.

That’s true.  I have a hard time with meditation.  My mind never really focuses on one thing.  Memorization used to be easier when I was younger; now I can’t remember much if it’s not written down, save for song lyrics to old tunes from the 70s and 80s that seeped in when I rode around in my parents’ car every day.

But that’s no excuse.  My selfish life gets in the way of me fully surrendering to God’s word; if I really wanted to I’d let it in.  I know I fail in this regard.

The thing is, I still love God.  I have not memorized great portions of his word to be spat out on command, but I feel like he knows I take what he has to teach me seriously.  But because I haven’t memorized a significant portion of Scripture, I have the sneaking suspicion that a major source of my sin is that I don’t really take his word seriously.

That, my friends, is something to meditate on.  And pray about.  I recently read that “Only through prayer can we exchange our independent selfishness for the gracious inner workings of God.”  I am on board with this statement.  So many times have I caught myself going through the motions of prayer, trying to learn something meaningful for Bible study or putting on the façade of being a good Christian so that God, but ultimately other Christians, will be pleased with me.  And then I fall down, dramatically.  I missed the point.

I’m willing to call out my imperfections, the places where I could do better.  God knows about them, after all.  He is the only one to whom that matters.

In the meantime, I have to deal with this memorization business.  I know it says in the Bible that we should memorize and meditate on God’s Word.  I mean, I think it does, right?



  1. OK, this memorization thing? Never worked for me. I mean, I know what's in the Bible. But can I give it to you chapter and verse on command? No. That's the truth.

    Now, I know more than a few people who can do that and I have to say that several of them may be quoting maniacs, but they aren't exactly the best example of those quotes in action.


    Perhaps, like many other things in the Bible, the "memorize" part isn't meant to be taken completely literally, but rather memorize the ideas, the messages, the truths behind the words.

    1. I can get on board with your interpretation of the memorization thing.

      It's the whole "chapter and verse on command" thing that gives me pause. 'Who are you to tell me what to do?' says my rebellious side.