Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…. Deut. 11: 18-20
Somewhere in my life, I remember seeing a house covered with hand-painted scriptures – probably in Nigeria. I wish I’d taken a picture of it. When I tried to Google it, the only images that came up were pictures of houses under construction with felt-marker scriptures on the framing – soon to be covered with drywall and paint. I guess the idea is just knowing these verses are ‘built’ into your house, even if they’re hidden forever. Then again, there’s that old saying: Out of sight, out of mind.
Like what happens when your Bible starts collecting dust on the dining room table.
When God told his people to fix, tie, bind, teach, talk and write his words all over their lives, it’s because he wants us to be saturated with his powerful and eternal word.
And, as I wrote in my previous post, what better way to do this than by memorizing scripture? Lots of scripture, not just random favorite verses – large, soul-nourishing chunks of scripture – complete chapters and books. It’s been changing me from the inside out! (Please read my first post about this if you haven’t already.)
My goal is to convince you to join me.
So, let’s get some of the lame excuses out of the way. I know them well, because they’ve been my excuses at various times, too – well, all of them except #1. I’m not as enamored with smart phones as most people seem to be. Here we go:
- “Isn’t memorizing Scripture pointless — even old-fashioned — in this day of instant access? Why bother memorizing anything if you can just bring it up on your phone?”
My rebuttal: Having the Scriptures on your phone, like having them hidden on the boards behind your walls, is NOT the same as having them fixed in your mind and heart! Only memorized scripture keeps God’s Word continuously speaking to our hearts and reviving our souls. A two-week trial will convince you of this, I guarantee.
- “Memorizing just isn’t my gift! I’ve got a terrible memory!” or maybe, “I’m too old to start memorizing!”
My rebuttal: Memorizing isn’t a gift; it’s a latent, God-given ability that needs to be developed. How many people go from being total couch potatoes to running a marathon overnight? Yep, none. But how many marathoners begin as slackers, and, through daily discipline and determination, go from huffing a block to running 26 miles? I know of plenty! And I’m convinced it’s the same with memory work.
Most of us are completely out of practice! But we’ve all done memory work in the past – to pass a test, act in a play, recite a poem, perform a song… If you’re American, you can probably still recite the 50 states and capitals you were forced to memorize in fourth grade. (We had it easier in Canada with only ten provinces.) I still have poems in my head (In Flanders Field and The Cremation of Sam McGee, to name two) that I memorized over 50 years ago!
You did it then, and you can do it again.But you’ll probably have to reactivate some near-comatose brain cells. Guess what? Your under-appreciated brain will thank you for it! And unless you have actual dementia, I say, “Age, schmage!” I started memorizing books from the Bible last year, at age 60. And I’ve been losing my car in the parking lot for years, already.
- “I don’t have time to memorize!” My rebuttal: You may tell yourself that, but what if you were to ‘borrow’ the time you spend on YouTube, Facebook, computer or video games, Internet browsing, TV, reading or knitting… and devote it to learning God’s Word by heart? Trust me. You’ll be so richly blessed, you’ll want to find more time in your schedule for it. (And hey! I bet you could even combine knitting and memory work, if you can already knit and carry on a conversation.) The point is, we find time for what’s most important to us. This qualifies as supremely important.
- “I don’t see other people doing it.” Maybe so, but hopefully this will change as more of us start memorizing and sharing our excitement with others.
Guess who IS memorizing lots of scripture? Muslims, that’s who. Sadly, the scripture they’re learning isn’t even inspired. And some of them don’t even understand the Arabic they’re memorizing! But many Muslims memorize the entire Qur’an, and they even have a name for them: Hafiz.
Incidentally, the Qur’an has 6,000 verses, the New Testament around 23,000 verses. Memorize ¼ of the NT and you’ve matched the Hafiz – except your memory work is divinely inspired!
I wonder if God will use Hafiz to convict lazy Christians on judgement day, just as Jesus said the Queen of Sheba would rise up to judge those who made little effort in Jesus’ time? (Matthew 12:42)
- “I can’t remember all those verse numbers.” Guess what? You don’t have to bother with verse numbers at all (unless you want to) – just chapters! I love how the writer of Hebrews references Scripture: “Somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day”….”There is a place where someone has testified….” “ And he says in another place…” Start by memorizing a four chapter book, and you have only four numbers to nail down!
So there you have it — I’ll get off my soapbox now. If you have other excuses, please send them my way and I’ll gladly shoot them down for you.
Nearly convinced? Figure out what book you want to start with, and I’ll be back with my next post to share how I got started and my crazy-simple methodology.
Oh, and one more suggestion: Maybe to warm up, you could memorize Deuteronomy 11: 18-20.
It’s the best argument of all!
Categories: The miracle of memory
Marilyn, I’m inspired and will join you. Philippians is my selection.
That’s wonderful, Jeannine! Great choice!
I memorized the full book of Philippians on a challenge from your husband when I was at a campus retreat in TN in 1997 (or maybe 1996). I am still trying to memorize chunks of scripture today because of what that did for my faith and in my relationship with God.
Thanks for sharing, Neal!