Last fall I began to earnestly work on memorizing scripture . . . again.
I was better at in college and in the early years of marriage, but with each pregnancy and all the demands of motherhood, I believed the lie that my brain couldn’t handle the discipline any longer. It seems I had an inexhaustible list of reasons why I couldn’t memorize verses, but the Holy Spirit showed me. It is not that I couldn’t, it was that I wouldn’t.
Back in the day, I found value in memorizing scriptures in chapter-sized hunks. The context was a big part in helping me remember the truths. I am all for the random verse, but the bigger the passage, the longer it seems to stay with me.
So, this fall – I can’t remember how I determined Psalm 16 would be the next chapter to commit to memory, but I typed it to a page, printed it on card stock, propped it up against the mirror in bathroom and began practicing to commit the ESV to memory.
As events unfolded and circumstances changed the words came alive. Promises were claimed and peace was found. Reminders were given and hope was claimed. God spoke to my heart.
Very quickly, the chapter seemed to become mine, like it was written just for me and I knew it. I had committed it to memory and I had lived it.
But . . .
Then the Holy Spirit gently showed me that He still had more to speak to my heart from this same passage.
In the middle of my devotional book (Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simons), the author delicately challenged me about false gods that I might be pursuing. Her words struck a chord and I realized once again that I had set up some very real idols. The verse she used to drive her point home?
“The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply…” Psalm 16:4a
I instantly knew she was right, the sorrows – my sorrows, multiply when I pursue these other gods. When my eyes read the verse, I recognized it immediately and realized my sin was more than idolatry – I had been self-righteous and judgmental . . . Every time I had read and recited that particular verse I had done so from a place of pride, casting my derision on “those” while being blind to my hypocrisy and not realizing that I am indeed one of them.
The later part of the verse goes like this:
“…their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.” Psalm 16:4b
What I had once read and studied now took on a whole new meaning – instead of reading with condemnation and condescension, my understanding took me to a place of realization and confession.
I know those sorrows too well. I know that they multiply too fast. I know that I am in no position to judge anyone in their pursuit of these gods, because only grace rescues me from that same fate on any given day.
I am in no place to name names of anyone pursuing these gods, but the gods themselves, I will name to weaken their power – comfort, ease, popularity, acceptance, self-importance..
This verse, as I now recite it, has become a prayer of repentance and supplication, asking God for forgiveness for being one who runs after other gods and for help to resist the temptation to pour out any form of blood offerings or worship to these fake and false deities.
I am amazed by God’s Word. Never having regretted any memorization work I have invested, the returns have been exponential. When God’s Word comes echoing to the forefront of my mind in a time of uncertainty or fear, He reminds me what I know to be truth. He employs it to speak straight to my heart, telling me exactly what I need to hear. He engages me with it to transform and tether my wandering heart to His.
His Word is indeed living. He speaks to me through it daily – if I am faithful enough to listen. His Word shapes my life, my relationships and my future. His Word is worth meditating on and memorizing.
I am going to use some space here on this blog to write about these mediations as I memorize passages. Most likely there will be more posts from Psalm 16. As I wrote above, God has used it to speak to my heart over the last 6-8 months. There is definitely more for me to share.
In an effort to start some dialogue to encourage each other, I will end each of these posts with a few questions to think on. If you feel so led, please comment your answers below.
What are your processes for memorizing scripture?
How has God used His Word committed to your heart?
What gods are you worshipping?
Who are you judging?
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