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Monday, September 3, 2018

The Rich Struggle of Scripture Memory

At the first Christian conference I attended after committing to follow Christ as Lord, I met with a man who was on staff with the ministry and was somewhat older.  He challenged me to begin to memorize Scripture.  He suggested Psalm 27:4 (here @ Bible Gateway) as a place to start.

As soon as the meeting was over, I went to the materials table.  I purchased both blank verse cards and a copy of the Topical Memory System.
The Rich Struggle of Scripture Memory
Soon Scripture memory was part of my everyday discipline.  I finished the TMS, and begin to memorize passages.  Romans 12 (here @ Bible Gateway) was the first chapter I memorized.  Then books.

I found that my time in the Word, both quiet time and Bible study was impacted.  While studying or reading a passage, others that I had memorized came to mind as cross references.  A few years back I was leading an seminar on Bible study in Trinidad and Tobago at a Bible college.  During discussion on a passage that the participants had spent some time studying I suggested several cross references, I was asked how I came up with those parallel passages, I realized it was from memory work and study I had done over the previous thirty some years.

I am not blessed with a photographic memory.  Memorizing Scripture is hard work for me.  It is much harder now than it was when I was younger.  But that difficulty has, for me, a marvelous benefit.  That benefit is that in reviewing the passage, re-reading it over and over in the process of memorizing it, layers of meaning that otherwise would be overlooked are observed.

This happened again this week.  In the next post I will share those observations.  But, it seemed necessary to lay this as a foundation and context.

There is one other thing that seems to be important.  In the fall of 1987, I entered seminary in pursuit of a ThM.  At the time we had three young children, the fourth was born the next year.  I was working 30 – 40 hours a week, part time.  Going to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I committed to not study while the kids were awake.  With few exceptions I was able to do that during the four years it took to finish the degree.

The point is that that under that load, something had to give.  That something was Scripture Memory.  Every minute for that four years seem to be scheduled with either assignments from classes, something at work, or a commitment with my family.

It was a great time.  But, my discipline of Scripture memory has never recovered to the point that it was before that season.

Again, I share that for context.  I trust that it will deepen the understanding of the next post…