Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and like many people I always enjoy taking some time in the month of November to reflect on the things for which I am thankful – particularly in light of the events of the preceding year. As this November comes to a close, I’d like to share one specific thing that has turned out to be a very great blessing in my life in 2017.
I started out the New Year with a resolution to memorize more Scripture. Bible memorization is not something new for me – I grew up memorizing for AWANA and learning various passages for school – but it is something that I have gotten away from as an adult. I set out with a goal of learning some longer passages rather than isolated verses, so consistency and regular review have been key to memorizing and maintaining what I’ve learned. For me, keeping 3×5″ cards in my car in order to learn and review 2-3 verses at a time has worked well (not while driving, of course!). I have been amazed to find that verses can turn into chapters, and chapters can turn into books – and months later, I can still remember what I’ve learned.
As I have reincorporated this discipline into my everyday life, the benefits have been numerous. For one thing, I have become aware of how much time I spend thinking on a daily basis, and how those thoughts are often rather aimlessly spent. The act of rote memorization and recitation redirects my thoughts in a very purposeful, profitable way – contributing to that “renewing of the mind” that Romans talks about. For another, the process of memorizing causes me to slow down and ingest Scripture in very small pieces – much smaller than when I read it – and adds a unique dimension to the process of gleaning and applying its truth. Finally, as the year has gone by, the time invested in memorization has given me a renewed appreciation for the absolute truth of the Word of God. It anchors my soul like nothing else can. With all of the resources and biblical study tools available to us, there is no substitute for the Word itself. And knowing the Word like never before is becoming increasingly vital in the shifting sands of our post-truth culture.
Knowing that December will fly by and the New Year will be here before we know it, I would encourage you to consider Scripture memorization as a very worthy goal for 2018. Don’t get too hung up on attaining a certain number of verses – remember, it’s about consistency and quality, not quantity. Grab your kids, your spouse, or a friend or two for additional accountability – and maybe a little friendly competition, right? (Some church friends joined me in working on the book of James, and we held a couple of monthly chapter review game parties before work schedules got in the way.) Find a time of day, a translation, and a method that works for you. I guarantee you will be blessed by this exercise!
Don’t just take it from me – check out this broadcast for further inspiration and resources!