I think anyone who loves the Lord and offers any advice whatsoever about how to grow in your relationship with God will tell you how important that reading God's Word is daily. They will tell you that the more you spend time studying His Word, the more like Jesus you will become. I'm not refuting that one bit. Totally agree. One important aspect of this process is taking the time to memorize Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says,
"Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You." NKJV
Why does hiding God's Word in our hearts keep us from sinning? Well, lots of good reasons. Most people will say that sin is doing something wrong. The Bible will give us clear direction as to what is "wrong." It offers a whole lot of things to do that are "right" as well. What new Christians may not know is that James 4:17 says,
"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
Wow. Maybe you haven't heard that before. It's pretty heavy. It takes following Christ to a new level. No longer are you just supposed to NOT do bad things...you are supposed to do the good things you know to do as well. Here it is. This is the part that usually gets even the people who think they are righteous in their own eyes because generally they are good people. I know we are all guilty of having moments though where we know we should do something good but find plenty of reasons not to do it. As I type, I know I need to fix supper soon. I guess in writing this, I will get up and cook when I'm finished. There have been plenty of times when I have been lazy and just refused to get up. It generally results in my family eating food that isn't as nutritious for us. There have been times that God has nudged me to do something...write a letter, make a phone call, go talk to someone...and I've totally chickened out. Yeah. Sin. Comes in lots of disguises. Really makes me appreciate that Jesus lived 33 years on this earth without committing even one sin despite fully being man.
Hiding God's Word in our hearts helps us to battle temptation. The Bible is our guide...like an instruction manual...like this acrostic says:
Memorizing specific Scripture for encouragement in hard times is key to the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is our helper...He is part of the Trinity (God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit). Jesus tells us in Scripture that when we accept His free gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives to be our helper. He is bigger than our conscience. He is a living, guiding force that works to help us out. When we memorize Scripture, the Holy Spirit can recall what we have studied to our minds at the perfect times. Whatever situation we are in, He can call back to our memories a passage of Scripture or a Bible verse that will help us through it. He can't recall for us something we haven't put in though. We have to put forth the effort. Maybe you think you don't have enough brain cells left to memorize. (Oh friend, I can relate now!) Ask God to help you retain what you are studying. It is perfectly OK to call for supernatural help! God wants us to learn His Word, so He is faithful to help us memorize!
OK...now on to the point of my post...what happens when life feels like it is swallowing you whole? For me, this was reaching a point of exhaustion with an 8 year old, a strong willed 2 year old, and a newborn. Good golly, I was a mess! I longed for God's Word in my life...I longed for even 5 minutes of quiet where I could focus and dig deeper into the Bible. It rarely came for days at a time. When it did, it was way too short. Everything within me cried out for more. I battled feeling guilty for not being able to accomplish a true quiet time. Yet, at the same time, God would call Scripture to my mind and comfort me that I was OK with it. If only I could have accepted His gracious view of myself, I would have been better off. We put way too much pressure on ourselves to be all we can be. I like Laura Story's new song called "I Can Just Be Me." Here is the verse that are words I needed to hear in the trenches:
"I've been doing all that I canTo hold it all together
Piece by piece.
I've been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It's just not me.
So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me."
The truth is, God was telling me this very thing as I was struggling under the guilt of thinking I should be more. One of these days, I'm going to learn to trust the Holy Spirit's voice in my life more than my own or even other Christians trying to take His place in my life. Well meaning Christians can make me feel guilty like no one else. There's a warning to heed...make sure when we speak into the lives of others that it is a word from God...not just our own thoughts from our soapbox.
Here is what I do know. As I was driving with screaming toddlers to pick up in afternoon car rider line, I would try to remember any Scripture I could conjure up. God would always send something comforting to my mind. As I was filling sippy cups and cleaning up messes, God would send comforting Scripture to my mind. In the mundane, routine, exhausting days of my life, God and I would talk. About His Word. About my life. About my friends' and family's prayer requests. In fact, in some ways, I grew closer to God in a new way than I had ever been before. I was dependent on Him to survive. Being a Christian isn't always sunshine and rainbows. I would love to say that I persevered under those mundane trials with a smile remaining positive. But I didn't. I was a mess. Because when I lose sleep, even going back to my childhood, I get whiny and cranky. I was losing more sleep than ever in my life with a medical condition that made it worse (I plan to blog about that soon too), and I just couldn't muster up the sunshine and rainbows. That did not mean that God was not there though. That did not mean that I wasn't in constant fellowship with Him. God was real and in the mess with me. He never left nor forsook me. He met me right where I was. In His time, He has pulled me out of that place of exhausted despair, and He has restored my sunshine and rainbows.
The key though was that I had put in the time. I had memorized Scripture when life was NOT a blessed mess, and I depended on it daily when life was. Many days, the Bible I "read" was the Scripture called to my mind. While I long to open up the beautiful pages of my Bible and soak up the blessed words on each page in quiet bliss, there are just days that doesn't happen. And I'm OK with that. Meditating on God's Word just looks differently some days than others. God is faithful to meet me for them all. Faithfulness is what I long for...where I want to be. I look forward to the days of hours spent in God's Word diving in deep again. I'm not gonna sweat the days until then though.
I love how God puts His Word that I need to hear in front of me when I need it. A divine Word for my situation. Saturday morning, I was feeling a little uneasy about heading out to help the homeless with my oldest son with me because of a post I saw about this other homeless man that was assaulting volunteers and others. He had put a different homeless man in the hospital. Now, the normal crowd we see are very nice and appreciative. Some of them smell of fresh alcohol, but in general, they are not too threatening. Not to say there haven't been encounters...just that it is generally safe at the time of day we go. I was feeling anxious and a little fearful Saturday morning. God put the verse from Hebrews 13:6 in front of me that says,
"So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Talk about a timely word! Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver." Yes! Love it! Love it even more when the word comes directly from God to my soul!
I encourage you to memorize God's Word. Write it on notecards and carry it with you to read in traffic or while waiting in line. I love window markers and writing on my bathroom mirrors. I decided a long time ago to buy decorations and shower curtains and wall hangings and on and on with Bible verses on them. I want my kids to absorb as much of God's Word as I can. Put God's Word in front of you. It will stick! Blessings sweet friends! I'm off to "do good" and make some chili for my family!