I’ve been getting some thoughtful e-mails from readers, wondering how the scripture memorization thing is going. Thanks so much for keeping me accountable to this and also for simply taking the time to make sure I’m hanging in there.
In particular, I’d like to thank Midnightrun for telling me about a great article by John Piper on the topic of Scripture memorization. You can find it on the Desiring God website by clicking here. It’s encouraging to read about all the heroes of our faith who practiced this discipline.
In all honesty, I have to admit that the scripture memorization hit a major snag for the past couple weeks. Going to Mexico didn’t help. I wasn’t exactly flipping through flashcards while sitting in the lounge chairs by the pool, even though I brought them along, just in case.
My main problem was that I got stuck on one verse in particular. I’ll share it with you, and maybe you’ll understand part of the problem:
“For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business” (James 1:11).
For one, it’s a freaking long verse. It’s the longest one I’d encountered yet. Next, talk about confusing sentence structure. It’s not your typical subject, verb, object layout. Finally, I really couldn’t see how it applied to me. I’m not a man, and I’m certainly not rich. In my book, that makes this one of the most impractical verses for me to memorize.
After successfully memorizing 10 verses, I got to number 11 and was ready to throw in the towel, all because I couldn’t make it past this one verse. For several days, I diligently got out my index card and packed it around with me, trying to pull it out while I was at traffic lights or at various breaks during the work day. It didn’t work. I was stuck.
Then I went on vacation, forgot about it for awhile, came back and tried again, half heartedly.
Finally, I brought the concern to God. I should have done that from day one, but no, I’m stubborn and self reliant.
God showed me some bigger issues at work.
In life, when I encounter something tough, I tend to bang my head against it for awhile until I tire out and finally give up. Examples? Let’s see. Chopin’s Ballade no.1, my arch enemy in the piano music department. Yes, I think it’s the most beautiful piece of music ever written for a piano, but I can’t count the number of times that I’ve pulled it out of the piano bench, only to cram it back in there in frustration. Now, it’s been on the shelf for well over a year. Or, what about relationships. Maybe I’ll have a row with a friend, and after trying out reconciliation for a little while on my own strength, eventually, I’ll just give up.
With this lovely new insight into my heart, I took another stab at the verse, this time with God’s assistance. I tried some different approaches to learning it, which included listening to a recording of it about 100 times to get the feel for the rhythm. I also spent more time thinking through how it applied to me because, surprise, it does have a lot to do with me.
Finally, I moved on to the next verse, while leaving the other one unfinished. This goes against all my perfectionist tendencies, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I couldn’t let myself get stuck in a hard place and stay there without moving forward. Sometimes, we just need to push past the hard stuff and move on with life. So now, I’m carrying a couple cards with me, and I keep referring back to verse 11 as I learn the others. I still don’t have it perfected, but I’m definitely making headway. It’s also nice to have other verses to learn in the meantime.
Now, I’m on verse number 14. I’ve got 88 left to go.