When I heard that my band had been invited to play in the parade for Santa arriving at a local shopping centre in November, I was excited. It sounded like a fun thing to be part of. I was sure there would be a large crowd, with lots of excited children, and that the atmosphere would be one of joy and celebration.
All of this turned out to be true. (And they had real reindeer!)
However, I didn’t foresee that it would also be one of my most stressful musical experiences ever.
We only saw the music we had to play around half an hour before the parade began, which wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t difficult so I thought we would cope. It was only when we went outside to line up that we realised how dark it actually was. There was no chance of us being able to see the music well enough to read it!
The only thing we could think of was to try and memorise the music! I spent the fifteen minutes we had to wait running through it over and over again, playing quietly and trying desperately to train my fingers to remember the patterns of the notes. It certainly sharpened my focus! I didn’t even notice the drummer (who had no notes to memorise!) taking a photo of me as I desperately tried to cram it all into my brain!
In the end, it went ok. Those fifteen minutes of frantic cramming had been enough… at least to get it into my short-term memory – don’t ask me to play it now!
It’s definitely not a strategy I’d recommend though!
Where am I going with this strange story?
Well, it led me to think about the benefits of memorising parts of the Bible – not in a panicked, last-minute-cramming-before-a-test kind of way, but in a thoughtful and intentional way.
So many times in life, we find ourselves in the dark. We lack wisdom or direction, we’re beginning to feel overwhelmed by circumstances, or the voices around us are not speaking hope and truth.
What if we had God’s Word – God’s truth – inside us, to the point where it came to mind automatically? What difference would that make?
From my experience, it makes a massive difference.
I remember a Bible verse I learned as a child once popping into my head completely out of the blue, around ten years later, at the moment I needed it most.
I remember sitting in hospital, worried about upcoming tests and potential diagnoses, reading Psalm 91 over and over again to the point where it is now permanently ingrained in my mind, and later knowing it giving me comfort and strength in other times of anxiety.
I know that when I use odd moments while I’m standing in line, or waiting for a bus, or even as I’m drifting off to sleep at night, to remind myself of verses from the Bible, it calms me. It restores my perspective and reminds me of what’s really important.
It’s not just about learning the words. It’s about absorbing the truth of the words and allowing it to change me.
We have a choice about what we fill our minds with, and Paul’s advice is:
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
What can be better to fill our minds with than God’s Word?
And as we make that choice to fill our minds with truth, surely that is what is going to come out more and more in our words and actions.
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11 NLT)
Learning God’s Word prepares and equips us so that, no matter how dark and uncertain the path ahead, we can move forward knowing that he will strengthen us and guide us.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NLT)
If this is an area you’d like to work on this year, here are some links with encouragement, advice and resources:
You Can Memorize Scripture This Year- Andy Naselli– deals with three of the most common reasons Christians give for not memorising Scripture and gives some tips and resources for getting started
Grow Your Faith In The New Year: Memorize Scripture- Betsy de Cruz – post on the importance of memorising Scripture and a simple technique for committing a single verse to memory
Bible Memory Resources- Do Not Depart – links to lots of helpful articles and resources to learn various sections of Scripture
Do Not Depart also organises Bible memory challenges from time to time. I have taken part in a few of these and found them to be really helpful. I have appreciated the accountability and support of doing it in community. Visit their blog to read about the latest memory challenge and find out how to sign up.
What about you? What helps you to memorise Bible verses? What benefits have you seen from doing it, or what have you found difficult?