Thursday, January 8, 2015

Scripture Memory--A Discipline and a Joy

I have had this post on my heart for the last several months but have been hesitant to write it because I do not want to sound boastful or proud.  I have talked to several friends about how it is so hard for me to talk about ways I am growing in the Lord without sounding like I am tooting my own horn. So, know from the outset of this post that I am writing this as an encouragement to my fellow believers in Christ and as a testimony to what God has been doing in my life over the last six months.  I am not writing to be boastful or toot my own horn (because it is God working in me and not by my own strength that I am able to testify anyway!)

Also, know that I  realize as I write this that everyone has different levels of strength in memorizing. Memorization has always come pretty easily for me.  It is how my brain is wired.  In school, I studied by basically memorizing my notes for tests--both the words and the where things were located on the paper because I can recall information if I can picture it on a page. That being said, I will also tell you--no matter how much you struggle or don't struggle with memorization, the brain is a powerful thing.  I have seen an increase in my ability to memorize since starting this journey.

What is this journey I keep hinting at but not explaining, you ask?  In June I received this email from a friend:
Recently several of my friends have turned 40. They have done some really inspiring challenges. And that has gotten me thinking – 40 is a great motivator to get something done that we wouldn't normally do. So the question is: what do I really need motivation to do? And the answer is: Scripture memory. I have 35ish months left before I turn 41 and I would like to memorize 40 chapters of the Bible. (40 chapters BY my 40th birthday would have been better, but since there are only 24 months left, I decided to try something that is actually achievable.) So far I am loving it. And I am convinced that the more I fill my heart and mind with the Bible, the less I will be tempted to fill them with things from the world. And there’s nothing I want more. I am excited because this is the beginning, but I’m guessing I’ll get past the “honeymoon” stage soon and be in need of accountability. That’s why I’ve sent this to you. If you are interested in joining in on a passage, chapter or book, please let me know. I’m going to put a tentative list of chapters at the end of this email; if you're interested, just let me know what you want to learn and if you have a preferred time period. I am definitely open to changing some of the chapters if you would like to join in memorizing and being accountable but have a different chapter in mind.
I will be honest. I read it and just kind of let it sit in my inbox for a few weeks.  But through those two weeks, God really worked on my heart.  And this was my reply, when I finally got the courage to reply (because let's face it, once you put the words out there, you can't really take them back!):
 I keep forgetting to reply to this!  I definitely want to participate.  This is SUCH A GREAT IDEA!!!!  And it makes me so happy to be your friend!  But I have absolutely no idea how to choose how I want to partner with you.  My first instinct is actually to say "Give me the schedule.  I want to memorize them all!" Scripture memory is an area that I go back and forth in how active I am.  And I haven't been very active in memorizing lately.  So, where are you in your memorizing and would you think I was a total geek if I just joined you in your memorization?  I might not stick with if for as long as you are, but it is a good motivator for me for this summer at least.  And I would totally join you again later if you need more accountability.  
So, "Give me the schedule.  I want to memorize them all!" became my answer.  Six months later, we are currently working on memorizing our 15th chapter (which includes the whole book of James!)!!!

Each Wednesday, I get together with Ginger to recite verses we are currently working on and review at least one of the chapters we have already memorized (if we stop practicing, we are going to "lose" what we have memorized).

Here are a few of the many blessings that have come out of this time, that I really want to encourage you with.

  • So many people who have heard what we are doing have said, "I could never do that!" (especially as fast as we have memorized).  Maybe the fast part is true, but I am not so sure.  If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I often sell myself short.  I have found more time to work on Scripture memory than I would have ever thought I had time for.
  • The main time I work on Scripture memory is while I am getting ready for work in the morning.  I write all of my verses on 3x5 index cards and keep them with me all the time.  Other main times I work are when I am in the car.  I travel a lot for my job, so this has been an excellent time for me to review.  Odd times I have found that work for me to review are when I am in the shower and when I am trying to fall asleep at night.
  • My friendship with Ginger has grown as we talk through the Scriptures and review Scripture together.  I don't know why this surprises me because coming alongside each other and sharing Christ with each other should grow us closer!
  • Scripture has come alive for me in ways I could not ever imagine!  It is amazing how much the Scripture I am memorizing connects with each other and comes up at Bible study, in sermons, and in books I am reading.  Here is one example of this.  Over Christmas, Ginger and I memorized Luke 2 because it talks about the birth of Christ.  Over the Christmas break I was working on BSF homework and we are studying Leviticus.  There is a chapter in Leviticus that talks about regulations for a woman after she gives birth to a child: how long she will be unclean, what kind of sacrifice she needs to offer to the Lord, etc.  In the past, I have never found this passage very awe-inspiring or relevant to my life.  However, in Luke, one of the verses says, "When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses has been completed, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."  Now, in Leviticus I learned that the time of purification was 33 days.  And because they brought a pair of doves or two young pigeons, I knew that Mary and Joseph were poor because otherwise they would have brought a lamb!  All of this may not excite you, but I am typing faster with the excitement that it brings me to see how all Scripture is God-breathed and connected!
  • Scripture memory is exciting to me!  When we start a new chapter, even if we are only a few verses in, Ginger and I are often talking about the next chapter we will memorize.  We want to do it all, and we want to do it right now!
  • Here is the best one, and a testimony for those who  feel like they could never do it:  The more I memorize, the easier it becomes.  I have seen God's Word take root and my ability to memorize increase over the last six months.  Some weeks are a struggle.  But, friends, it is no joke when I say that over the course of today (just one day), I memorized 10 verses.  Now, I will have to review them over the next few days to really get them to stick in my brain.  But I was able to recite them just a few minutes ago without much of a mistake.  I was not able to do that six months ago.  And I would have been the first to say to anyone who would have tried to tell me it was possible, "You're crazy.  I could never do that!"  With God ALL things are possible!
Oh my goodness, I am so excited to be able to share this with you all!  I hope you made it to the end so I can say how much I love you, my readers!  Thank you for listening to me go on and on and get carried away with my excitement. :)  I hope it was an encouragement to you.  Even if you don't want to memorize Scripture after you read this, I hope it gave you encouragement to do something that you have previously thought was impossible!

And, if you're still reading now (sorry this post has gotten so long), you could be praying for me over the next week.  I am speaking in AWANA next week and have chosen to recite Acts 7 to them, one of the chapters we have memorized that is a history chapter.  I am so excited to share with the kids and encourage them to continue to memorize even after they leave AWANA, but I need prayer that I will remember everything that I have memorized.  It is very different reciting to myself or to Ginger and reciting to 100 kids and a couple handfuls of adults!

1 comment:

Alicia said...

I love you, T!!! O remember sitting in your dorm room and you helping me because it was (and still is)so hard for me. But now I am so grateful as I talk to my friends, children, and kids at church how God's word comes back. and as usual, not word for word!:)