Since I was very little, I have had the super useful ability to memorize lines from movies and T.V. shows. I usually speak in movie quotes and reference back to scenes as though everyone in the world knows what I’m talking about – generally they don’t. Nevertheless, I still am able to flawlessly quote lines after only watching something once.
Just this morning my husband wanted to quote a movie line for a social media post and asked me what the line was because he knew I would know it. It’s a gift – and super annoying to some of my family and friends. What can I say? For some reason, my mind catches quippy sayings or inspiring monologues and commits them to memory. YET, I struggle when it comes to memorizing important things. Things like Scripture.
When I was about twelve, I was on a team of 5-6 other kids from church who committed to working through certain books of the Bible, and then competed with other churches in the area and nationally by being quizzed on those passages. We would have to know peoples’ names, places, words that were only used one time and even alliterations within our assigned passages.
Some teams we would face would be able to rattle off verses and verses of Scripture and perfectly quote every word. I was pretty good at remembering small facts about a chapter or section but was not very good at quoting longs passages. I always felt like I never measured up and like I had some kind of issue. Why could I commit some things to memory but not all things – important things?
I gave up for a while. I just decided that I would give myself the out and say, it’s too hard. I’m no good at it. I would try secretly by myself, but when I failed it was just in my room not in front of anyone. I lumped myself in with the other Christians who “can’t memorize Scripture”. Can you relate?
Then I met Margaret…
Margaret is the wife of one of the former presidents of my alma mater. She is as sweet and kind as any woman could be. She used to ride around campus on her bicycle and makes the best baked Alaska I’ve ever had. Margaret is a “seasoned” servant of Christ. As a woman in her eighties, one would think that her mind would become duller and less likely to remember important things.
On the contrary, Margaret is a master at memorizing passages of Scripture. She would quote full chapters of Psalms to us in chapels and at special events. We would marvel and be moved by her dedication to God’s word.
Isn’t that really more of the point when it comes to memorizing Scripture – dedication to God’s word?
A young Jewish boy would have memorized the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah) by the age of twelve. The first five books! And I’m over here struggling to commit to one verse. How dedicated am I to the Scriptures?
Over and over again the Bible tells us to “write” God’s word on the tablets of our hearts, to “talk” about them when we lie down and when we get up, “impress” them on our children, and to “bind” them on our wrists.
Reference: Proverbs 7:1-3, Deuteronomy 6:4-9
What if we took to heart the advice of old and applied it to our lives? How would our lives change if we began to commit to memory “the B-I-B-L-E” which we claim to “stand alone” on?
Here is what I have learned.
- I have come to realize that I retain what I let change me.
The reason I am able to recall movie lines and monologues is because there was something about it that changed me. A joke made me laugh or I was inspired by a character’s rant. Something that was spoken spoke to me in some way. I am no longer the same because of it, for better or for worse.
When I let the Word of God change me, mold me and refine me, I am no longer the same.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
I become who I was always meant to be when I allow the Word in my life. Therefore, I am at my best self when God’s word is alive and active in my life (reference: Hebrews 4:12)
- I am able to do all things that Christ has called me to.
On my own merit, I am capable of very little. I am not brave. My creativity is limited. I easily give way to doubt.
But with Christ…
With Christ I have courage. With Christ, I can rely on his abilities. With Christ, my faith is restored.
With Christ, I am able to commit to memory God’s word because I am obedient. Do I really think he will allow me to fail in what he has called me to if my hope is founded in him? Victory is his and I will succeed in him.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
So, now that we all know it is worth the sweat to commit to memory the Word of God, where do we start?
We’re going to take the advice given in Scripture; WRITE, TALK, IMPRESS, BIND.
WRITE – Write your chosen passage out every day. I like to do this 5x a day. When you write, you are not only reading with your mind, but you’re also using your muscle memory to help recall Scripture. Writing forces the mind to slow down and process each word.
TALK – Say the passage out loud. Put some volume to the Word. Dramatically read it to yourself as if you were preaching the Word to your heart. Say it out loud 5x a day. You are using your speech and ears when you do this.
IMPRESS – My three little ones love actions (so do some adults). When you say the passage out loud, make up some motions to go with it. For example, if you are talking about the strength of the Lord, raise your arms and show your muscles. Using actions and words gets your whole body involved in memory work.
BIND – Wear something with the passage on it. Have it put on a T-shirt, decal, bracelet or keychain. This will help serve as a reminder for you to recall the passage that you want to remember.
The goal in committing Scripture to memory is not to impress an audience, or to prove your faith as a Christian. The goal is to live in full obedience to the Word of God. How can we do this if we are not dedicated to Scripture?
When Jesus was tempted by the enemy in the dessert (Matthew 4), he combatted the darkness of sin with the Word. His weapon was the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). He did not have the Bible with him. He was able to vanquish the schemes of the Devil because he knew the Word.
Father – May we all strengthen our faith through the diligence of studying God’s word and may we commit it to memory, through the Spirit, so that we may be found in obedience to the righteous ways of God. Amen!