It seems obvious to me now; if a person memorizes 879 verses of Scripture, there is going to be a profound impact. I just never expected this experience would have such an effect on my attitude, my heart, my mind, and my life. It's like I started out in search of a cup of water and discovered the ocean.
I have memorized the entire Book of John. All 21 chapters, all 879 verses. But I didn't do it. It was done to me. When I began, I imagined the sense of accomplishment and pride I would feel at achieving such a lofty goal. But here at the end, I can honestly say that I do not feel an ounce of pride or accomplishment. Rather, I am overcome with humility at what the Lord has done. He did it. He invited me to complete this task. He motivated me daily. He encouraged me when I got tired and frustrated. He held my hand when I was overwhelmed. He instilled in me a supernatural excitement about learning His Word. He blessed me with the gift of understanding as I meditated on each verse. He cleared my mind and allowed it to focus on Him, His Words, His thoughts, His message. I was just along for the ride. I take no credit for this accomplishment. I could sense throughout the whole experience that I had nothing to do with it; I just showed up each day. Like I said, I didn't do it. It was done to me.
Let me start by listing some things that did NOT happen as a result of this experience:
- I could not get any outside help. There was no way around the task and no strategies to make it any easier. It was just between God and me.
- I did not become any less of a sinner. I guess knowing a lot of Bible verses doesn't make you immune to sin.
- Resisting temptation did not get any easier. In fact, it was often even more frustrating because my desire to obey was so great, that it hurt that much more when I fell.
- Merely memorizing the verses did not get me any closer to God unless I diligently pursued the message behind them.
- I saw firsthand how miserably human beings consistently fail.
- I saw how perfectly God loves us despite our sin and failures.
- We are so inadequate without Him and no matter how hard we try, we can't get around the fact that we need Him. For everything.
- I learned that despite our shortcomings, He still invites us to work alongside Him. What an honor!
- He enjoys being with us.
- He is always kind, loving, and good. He continues reaching out to us; He stands at the door and knocks. He doesn't condemn us for our unbelief but continues to love us and wait for us to turn to Him.
- He provides absolutely everything for us whether or not we realize it or have thankful hearts.
- We show our love and devotion to God by our commitment to obedience. Thankfully, God gives us the desire as well as the ability to obey.
- God is just so great. And we are nothing unless we have Him.
- The things that I have learned about God through this study have surpassed my ability and vocabulary to express them. I'm going to have to share John's words on this one: "If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." 21:25
There is something special about memorizing long portions of the Gospel. These are some of my favorites quotes from a blog by "John Project" about his experience memorizing John.
- "I recited 10 chapters today in my review time almost flawlessly, and I am not ashamed to say that afterword's I just wept at the beauty and power of God through his word, and that he gave me such a gift, to be a vessel, a container of the words of life, what a privilege."
- "Its like the words are alive, almost in a physical sense yet not, but...alternating or phasing almost imperceptible, between dimensions."
- "Its like they want to slip off the pages and proclaim themselves but are held back by a supernatural force; and yet, here I am, absorbing these supernatural "scribblings" so called into my brain....and I can feel them, swirling around in my being, transforming my way of thinking...."
- "And although I have read them over and over for many number of years, it wasn't till I started to commit them to memory that I realized, I'm getting my freaking mind blown!"
My life has been transformed by taking a small part of that power and carefully depositing it into my heart each day:
- I realized that everything is a "God thing". I used to reserve that phrase for when something particularly great happened. Now I know that God is truly in everything. I see Him everywhere. He is in the little things as much as the big things because my eyes have been opened to see Him more clearly.
- I often spent large quantities of time working through a particular passage. The verses would be on the forefront of my mind. When that happened, I had an awareness of the Holy Spirit's presence throughout each and every moment of the day. Those were the best days. Never in my life have I felt more like the clay. And what a blessing to have the Potter do His work in me.
- Before, I would often select a verse or two to memorize that would help me live a better life or to avoid a certain sin. Now, I realize the wonder and fulfillment in memorizing Jesus. What a joy to study HIM and learn every detail of His walk here on earth.
- Before, there were two things of utmost importance to me: my Quiet Time, and my workout. But the workout always came first. If I was short on time, my devotions were the first thing to go. Now I realize that my spiritual life is far more important than anything else and my time with God ALWAYS comes first. I haven't missed meeting with Him in many months.
- I saw that when I showed up, God showed up. It was that simple. If I was seeking Him, I mean really, truly pursuing Him and longing with all my heart to hear from Him, He never let me down. And when I sought Him on a consistent basis, I grew stronger and more mature in my faith than ever before. Of course I knew this before, but it is profoundly different to experience it and to feel firsthand the magnitude of what God's presence can do in my daily life when my heart is truly surrendered to Him.
- I learned how important it is to memorize Scripture. Sure, we can sit in the pew and nod our heads. We can go to Bible Study and have a wonderful time of fellowship. We can do our Quiet Time each day and read our designated passages. Or we can read our happy, cutesie devotional book with the flowery pen and journal. But nothing compares to inviting God into your heart by committing His very words to memory.
- My perspective has completely changed. Things I used to find important are no longer that big of a deal. I can see the bigger picture now. I see the Gospel and understand what life is all about. I am here to bring Him glory. I am here to enjoy Him and to obey. And maybe if I can keep an eternal perspective, I can have the honor of helping to build His Kingdom. This attitude has had a far-reaching impact in how I spend money, how I spend my time, the thoughts I allow in my mind, how I treat others, and how I make plans and goals for my life.
- I know Jesus better. I have spent an immense amount of time with Him this past year. As I meditated on His nature verse by verse, I was slowly transformed. He drew me in so close and taught me great and wonderful things I never knew. When I sing to Him in church now, I am really, really singing to Him. When I pray, I am really, really talking to Him. These are things I used to do before, but it's just different now.
- I understand now that God will always continue to open my eyes to new things. I learned a lot through studying John, but I also realize that there is so much that I still don't know. I could study it five more times and grow stronger in my understanding and deeper in my relationship each and every time. I have only scratched the surface of the treasures that are within His Word.
- I will never read the Bible in the same way again. I have seen how much meaning is behind each and every word. I have understood why seemingly meaningless details are included. I have realized the usefulness of commentaries by godly men and the benefit of exploring the original Greek words. These God-inspired books in the Bible are like paintings by gifted artists who used each stroke of the brush to add depth, color, and detail to create the most wondrous picture of God's ultimate message to us: His love.
- This will sound silly, but in many cases, I felt like I was there. Some chapters took so long to memorize and I had to repeat them so many times, the pictures in my mind became abundantly vivid and real. I can distinctly remember Jesus standing up and looking into the adulterous woman's eyes to tell her she was not condemned. And I can remember Jesus' expression when he asks Peter three times if he loves Him. I smelled the perfume that Mary poured on His feet and watched the blind man rejoice as his eyes were opened. I felt Jesus' rage when he overturned the tables at the temple and I watched in wonder as He calmed the storm. I saw the detachment of soldiers fall at the sound of His voice and I cried with Mary outside the tomb. I stood with Thomas and touched His hands while He looked at me with patience and love. I saw and believed. Honestly, it's like I was there.
- There were times when I had doubts that I would be able to complete this task. When I started, I figured I'd better memorize as fast as I could before the excitement wore off and I got tired of doing it. But as I continued along, the excitement only grew. I realized that the more I learned, the thirstier I was for more. Jesus doesn't give as the world gives. What He has to offer doesn't get old, it doesn't wear out, and you can't get sick of it.
Dear Family and Supporters,
Thank you for your patience and support as I completed this project. Thanks for understanding how important this was to me and for sharing in my excitement as I went along. I appreciate your encouragement and your commitment to your own Scripture memorization. Pastor C. and Pastor E.,
I can't thank you enough for your support and guidance as I memorized the book of John. It is a privilege to be in your flock and I deeply appreciate the time you took to answer my questions.
Dear Blog Reader,
I feel honored that you have chosen to join me throughout this life changing experience. My prayer for you is that you will begin your own journey. I hope that you will hear God's call on your own life, and that He will give you the courage, strength, perseverance, and excitement to obey. Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb looking right at Jesus and didn't know it was Him. The fact is, He is here among us and invites us to enter into His kingdom and enjoy eternal life. Will you recognize Him? Or will you watch Him do amazing things and reject Him like the man at the Bethesda Pool? Will you believe but allow your fear to prevent you from committing your life to Him like Pilate? Or will you say, "Lord, I believe", like the blind man who was healed? Don't read my blog and be a headshaker, nodding in agreement and then go back to your normal life. Do something! Get up! Turn off the computer and pick up your Bible. I hope that I have demonstrated the importance of Scripture memorization and adequately expressed the depth of impact it can have on one's life. If I have, then please be inspired into action.
Thank you, Jesus.