Two weeks ago, my phone battery gave out during the middle of church.
Honestly, it didn’t really bother me. It was just more of a minor inconvenience since I use the Scripture app to follow along with congregational reading.
I gave one last valiant effort to revive my phone from the depths of battery purgatory, only to fail.
I took a deep breath and settled into my seat, ready to listen to the reading. No need to really follow along seeing as how the words are on the screen anyway.
“I beseech you therefore brethren...”
Wait, I know this one!
“by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice. Holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”
The pastor kept reading through a few more verses, and still, I knew every word.
I recited every single word. Without the app. Without written words in front of me. I knew them. Perfectly.
Memorizing scripture has been a part of my church experience for as long as I can remember. So, being able to recite the chosen passage at church that morning didn’t come as a surprise.
Rather, it was more of a sobering reflection and a personal challenge.
You see, I was always told one we memorize Scripture so that we won’t sin against the Lord.
In my 6-year-old brain, this translated into the following message:
“Memorize verses. Say them to yourself ALL THE TIME. And you will be able to prevent yourself from getting trouble.”
LIES! All lies! I got in trouble all the time!
Probably had something to do with a very strong will and an insatiable curiosity for the answer to the ‘why?’ question. Unfortunately, my mother and I weren’t always on the same page with this one.
For a long time, I wondered if I was missing something when it came to my understanding of why I had memorized so many verses. I could quote Scripture for days, but I still messed up ALL THE TIME!
And for this “type A” girl, that was super frustrating!
However, as I sat in church, rethinking my childhood perceptions, I came to realize that maybe the disconnect was in my understanding of the “WORD.”
Psalm 119:11 “Thy WORD have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was GOD.”
In Psalms, David talks about hiding the WORD in your heart. John says the WORD is GOD.
In that moment, it became much more than just memorizing and reciting Scriptures as the magical formula for avoiding sin.
This misconception I had regarding my understanding of the purpose of memorizing Scripture, quickly unraveled like a skein of yarn.
And, as I looked down at this knotted mess of string at my feet, Jesus reached down and started to re-wrap it on the spinning wheel of my heart.
Gently whispering to me that it has always been and always will be about RELATIONSHIP.
When I am speaking to Him. Loving Him. Confessing to Him. Listening to Him, seeking Him and learning at His feet – my mind is too preoccupied to focus on having my own way and seeking out my sinful, self-serving agenda.
There is no perfect number of verses to memorize to bring about a life void of mistakes and sinful behaviors. It’s about hiding HIM, the true WORD, in your heart. Staying close to HIM when you are at your darkest point. Relying on HIM to see you through to the other side.
We could read the Word 24/7 and we would still sin. In fact, we would probably sin more because we would be seeking good behavior in our own strength instead of casting all of our cares on Him.
He is the Way, the Truth, the Life – it is only through Him that we gain freedom and liberty from the darkness that holds us captive.
For when we commit to fully and completely doing life with Him, it is then we attain ultimate peace, contentment and fulfillment.