Memorize in Calm to Prepare for Storms
Sarah House, a stay-at-home mom and blogger, recounts how taking time to memorize Scripture in a calm season of life benefited her soul when a family emergency hit in a chaotic season of life:
In the midst of running errands, I received a text from my mom. My cousin had a serious infection. He was fading fast. When we arrived at the hospital, he was confused and anxious. As I held his hand and wondered if this was goodbye, I spoke the first verse that came to mind:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)
When I memorized that verse as a teenager, our family was not in a moment of crisis. It was just the next verse on the list. However, in that hospital room, I was thankful for that strong, memorized Word to cling to.
When the moment of trouble arrives, we rarely have time to search through our concordance for the perfect verse to quench the fiery darts flying at us. May I challenge us to consider how we are fortifying our souls for the days of trouble? After all, we have been promised that trouble will come (John 16:33).
Don’t wait for the hospital room to find that verse you need.…Prepare. Prepare your heart for the next family gathering, for the “random” moment you run into an old friend who has just heard bad news, or even for the next time your child has a nightmare. Jesus said troubles would come—and He did not leave us without help…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17)
When the Word of Christ dwells in us, it can helpfully flow from us in every season of life.
Repeating a verse out loud is a proven way to memorize. But it’s not the only way. House offers four different strategies aimed at hiding God’s Word in our hearts: read the Word, meditate on the Word, study the Word, and sing the Word.
Read the Word
House points to the blessed man of Psalm 1, who makes the Word of God his constant study:
[H]is delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. (Psalm 1:2b-3a)
Drink from the Word. Do it daily. Do it when you need it most. In those hectic, harried days of infants and toddlers, I needed the Word at night to bring peace and rest. Now that the kids are older, the Word is my morning wakeup, giving me hope and focus for the day ahead…Sometimes I read chapters, sometimes just a single chapter. The point is to read it, know it, pray through it, and submit to it. There is not a burden we carry or a trouble we face that cannot be helped by a better knowledge of what God has spoken to us:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)
Do you drink the water of the Word daily, setting aside time before the demands of the day distract you? A wise Christians once said, “meet with God before you meet with men.” That’s literal but figurative, too. Before we pick up a digital device with all it’s imposing alerts that start our minds racing, we do well to give God our first moments for Bible reading and prayer.
Meditate on the Word
We need to drink from the Word daily, but it’s also good to slow down and savor it—to meditate on it rather than just rushing each day’s Bible reading plan. House explains,
It is good to read through the whole Bible, but we should not be content with just a broad overview. We must learn to “camp out” in a text. Different passages speak more poignantly to us in different seasons, and they are worth digging into. For example, as a single woman, I anchored my soul in the sovereignty of God expressed in the book of Ruth. While preparing for marriage, it was John 15. This summer it was Psalm 103…
Take time to read deeply: look up cross references, learn the historical context, and read commentaries to see what theological gems scholars have gleaned. Does a certain passage grip your heart?...When trials come, rehearse it in your mind until your soul is refreshed in its truth.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:5-8)
The Lord has given us precious words of encouragement for every season and trial in life. Are you wrestling with fear? Cling to Psalm 56:3-4. Are you battling sin? Meditate on Romans 12:1-2 . Are you anxious? Rest in Philippians 4:6-7. Are you struggling with assurance of salvation? Savor the deep truths of Romans 8:29-30.
Study the Word under trustworthy teachers
The Lord fills us with His Spirit to help us understand the Word. He has also called pastors and elders to give us the sense of the text so we can understand it’s meaning (Nehemiah 8:8). House encourages her readers to seek out faithful preaching for meditating on the Word at times when they can more easily pay attention.
[A]s a mom with young children around me in the service, I rarely have the opportunity to listen undistracted on a Sunday morning—not to mention the Sundays we stay home with sick children. However, we live in a digital age. Many churches make their sermons available online. Find and listen to sermons by trustworthy pastors that will help you understand the Word better, as well as how to accurately apply it to your life.
[R]eceive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21b)
Has your pastor preached on a passage you are trying to memorize? That would be an ideal sermon to revisit. If he hasn’t, likely other faithful ministers of the Word have. We have a wealth of sermons, books, and Bible resources we can access.
Sing the Word
What better way to hide God’s glorious truths in your heart than with a song? Are you listening to music that will fill your heart with the Word? House suggests,
Stock your music library with songs grounded in the Word that will lift your heart to God (artists like Keith & Kristyn Getty and Fernando Ortega do this well). Play them as you go about your household tasks or as you drive around in the car. Study the lyrics and think through the truths they speak. Listen to them until they penetrate your memory.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,…For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. (Psalm 92:1-2, 4)
Do you think you can’t memorize or that you’re too busy? This booklet will teach you how to memorize in just 15 minutes a week so you can take up the sword of the Spirit to fight the good fight of faith.
Writing memory verses in a Fighter Verses journal can help you remember the words, notice patterns and details, ask questions, and pray the verses you're storing in your heart.
The Fighter Verses cards and display stand make it easy to review and meditate on your verses by keeping them where you can see them throughout the day with.