On Letting the Word Dwell In Us Rickly
I think I shared with you that as I turned into the new year (which, by the way, for Christians starts in December or late November on the first Sunday of Advent) that this year I made a commitment to memorize one scripture passage a week. Not just one verse, but a significant “chunk” of scripture. I thought I’d share my reasons for this and my experiences in doing this.
So, so far, I’ve memorized 10 passages: Romans 1:1-7; Psalms 23; Psalms 46; Luke 2:1-7; Luke 2:8-14; Matthew 2:1-12; John 1:1-18; Colossians 3:12-17; John 3:16-21; and Luke 6:27-38 (which includes Jim Blake’s life passage: Luke 6:38). (I know this sounds like bragging, but I’m actually kind of proud of it!)
The reason I have started to do this is that in some senses I have found that I have fallen out of love with the scriptures. It’s easy to do in these days isn’t it. We hear a constant stream of distrust and almost “hate” for the Bible at times. The words “Bible Schnible” come to mind. And sometimes I totally understand that sentiment. Sometimes the Bible has been “misused” in a way that it’s used to put certain groups of people down without first trying to understand them.
Add to this cultural attempt to diffuse the power of the Bible, an honest struggle by most Christians to understand it, and you can see how one might fall out of love with this book. And so, I’ve embarked on this project in order to fall in love with the Bible again. To claim this book, as my book. To recapture that sense that God is speaking to me again through this book. As one of the scriptures I’ve been memorizing puts it (Colossians 3:16) “Let the word of God (or Christ) dwell in you richly.” That’s what I long for: and indwelling of God’s word and love in my life!
Another idea concerning doing things differently this year in my life, came from a question someone asked me: “Hey Brook,” some asked, “How can you tell someone is a millennial?” I shrugged my shoulder and said, “No clue.” They smiled and said, “When they wake up the first thing they look for is their cell phone.” And then I laughed because recently I’ve fallen into the habit of putting my cell phone under my pillow at night because I get tired of looking for that thing as soon as I get up! That cell phone has become THE CENTRAL object in my life! How could I change that? Well, here’s what I am trying. Recently I purchased a small leather bound New Testament and Psalms and when I can’t sleep and as soon as I get up…the first thing I do is reach under my pillow for God’s word. Sometimes I just hold it as I recall one of my memory passages, but other times I turn and read.
Let me share with you what has happened to me since I started placing these scripture passages in my heart. The first that has happened, is that I find myself turning them over again and again in my mind all the time. They become jewels in my heart. And as I turn them I start contemplating the many aspects of each passage. I wrestle with what certain passages and words mean. In trying to memorize them, I often change them a bit so that they come off my tongue a bit easier. In a way I make them my own. In a real way I place them in my heart.
And here’s another part of this journey that is beginning to happen: I am enjoying it! It’s become a neat challenge for me each week. Sometimes I begin the week thinking: why in the world did I pick such a long passage, there is no way I’m going to be able to memorize this one this week! But then, right around Wednesday, it starts clicking and almost always, by Thursday night…I’ve got it, and it’s starting to come alive!
I know memorization isn’t for everyone, but I do want to challenge each of you to think of ways you can begin to fall in love with scripture again. How can you claim this book as yours? How can this book become holy for you and not just for us?
Sincerely, from my heart to yours, Pastor Brook