“Believing God’s word is vastly more crucial than memorizing it. But O the mighty service rendered to faith by such memory.” -John Piper
Much has been written about memorizing Scripture. I can’t intend to write a post about why you should commit to memorizing bulk portions. What I can do, is tell you how it has matured my walk in ways I couldn’t have known when I started and then let you decide if maybe this is something you can do as well.
I began my efforts for no other reason than to see if I could. I cannot pretend that I started with high spiritual reaches in mind. I did include talks with God in my efforts, and I felt I walked closer than usual with Him while I worked. I memorized the book of Ruth. I chose it because it was that or Esther and Esther is 10 chapters, while Ruth is 4. Seriously, I had no intentions that this would also be an exercise in my faith walk. I am a very slow student, but God is a patient Teacher.
After Ruth, I added the first 3 chapters of Genesis. The time I spent in those chapters remain very precious to me. I felt like God was constantly saying, “This is My story. This is Who I Am.”
Still, I plowed through my work as though it was more an assignment than important meal. I added the book of Jonah, Genesis 4 and 22, Isaiah 51-54 to my list in this same way: Always treasuring the very real introduction I was receiving from God in His Word and how it was transforming my daily life, but not making the connection that the key factor in those seasons was that I was committing His Word to my mind and heart.
Such a slow learner.
During the time that I was cured of MS, I spent 9 days in isolation. My nurses spoke no English and I spoke only during my doctor’s three times daily visits. I entered that time with the full knowledge that God was in the middle of it. I felt Him prowling that room like a Lion. I woke up from my transplant with these sweet words on my mouth,
put on your strength, O Zion;
put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city;
for there shall no more come into you
the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Shake yourself from the dust and arise;
be seated, O Jerusalem;
loose the bonds from your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.
I was healed. I knew it and He had put His Words in my mouth to seal it. That was about the time that it occurred to me that I had stumbled onto something much bigger than a simple brain exercise. Slow and steady wins the race.
After we returned home, I began working on Esther. Because I also present these Scriptures dramatically, I had decided to only do the first 8 chapters because it felt like it ended well there for staging purposes. I worked on those 8 chapters with a performance date on the calendar. If you haven’t read it lately, you should know that there are seven eunuchs, seven nobles, 2 regions and a lineage in the first three chapters.It was glorious work. I don’t know that I have ever gotten it 100 percent right on stage, but I have all by myself and it’s a joy to have it rattling around in my brain.
By the time I got to Esther, I’d had my light bulb moment. I knew that every word mattered, every name, every town. These were people. They lived and this is how God operated among them. This is how God operates. I took that Word and I memorized it, I meditated on it, I let it seep into my marrow. More than any Bible study I’ve ever attended – and I’ve been to some great ones – more than any good spiritual book, more than any anything I have ever tried or had suggested, this has been the one thing that has finally settled my soul.
I have found much gain from fasting, Bible study, small groups, good books, and a host of other opportunities in this land of plenty. Through it all, I still wrestled with wanting to really know Who God is. Bulk Scripture memorization settled my soul. I don’t know if it will do the same thing for you, but I wanted to let you know what happened to me when I did it.