I am absolutely, positively horrible at remembering things. Anything. I have to write down birthdays and anniversaries. I have to keep a book of passwords. I have post-its and a very full calendar to help me remember my daily tasks. It all sounds normal, but seriously, don’t ask me how old I am or when my kids graduated. I’d have to call my sister… Pathetic, right?
I was in a Bible study last year where we were challenged to memorize scripture. Admittingly, that scared me. I can often remember that I read something. I can usually envision the journal or book margin where I took notes, which allows me to put my fingers on it a bit easier. But goodness gracious, it is a lot to ask me to regurgitate words and numbers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there is great power in memorizing scripture. I know the importance and the command to hide God’s word in my heart. I get up early to read the bible. I do bible studies with friends all the time. I have journal after journal filled with stories, quotes, and prayers. But for the life of me, I cannot remember any of it readily. My idea of memorizing definitely involves paraphrasing.
I remember the first week of my new bible study last year. I was with some powerhouse ladies who, in my mind, would have no trouble memorizing scripture. I was intimidated beyond belief and there was no hiding it! We recited the verse together that first week. The girls carried me and I chimed in with a few words and phrases as they came to my brain. The second week was not so pretty. We had to recite with a partner and I was not prepared. To be honest, I didn’t even try simply because I “knew” it couldn’t happen. But I didn’t want to disappoint my group, so I committed to trying. Third time is a charm, right? Turns out, with a little effort, the third time is indeed a charm!
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand with sinners, or join in with scoffers. They delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about this law. They are like trees planted along the riverbanks, producing fruit in every season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3, D’s version…which is kind of close to NLT.
I may have mistaken a word or two, but this is the general gist of the verse and I am proud to have been able to memorize it. But I’m not done. While I have written this verse out, what seems like, a billion times, and I have recalled it to my mind and recited it while doing the dishes and the laundry and driving in the car – I have not accomplished the hardest part.
Memorizing it is only the first step.
I hope this verse, and all the others I have memorized since, will remain in my heart. I don’t want them to be mere words I know – I want them to be strong words I live. Words that convict me. Words that challenge me. Words that change me. As I am shaped and molded by the words I read and commit to memory, I also want God to allow my brain to recall and use those words to help someone else grow closer to him. This is huge for the introvert in me. I would much rather write a letter filled with God’s truth – words I have carefully thought out; words I have verified. I can’t be so careful when speaking verbally. But the Good News is good news and it can’t be left to settle in my heart alone. It must be shared and if God provides the opportunity to do so in a passing conversation, at dinner, or while on a walk, I want to be prepared.
Which brings scripture memory full circle…
It is hard to know when the words of scripture will come in handy, but I want to be ready with a treasure of truth in the reservoir to draw upon when the opportunities arise. In those moments, I will trust God to give me the words I need and not fret about getting every word right.
What about you? Do you regularly memorize scripture? I’d love to hear your tips and strategies! How do you memorize and recall these verses?