Talk about life-changing….
I remember the first time I realized I could store scripture in my mind. I was 10, and a VBS leader had challenged my group to memorize all of James 1 over the course of a week. I spent a ton of time rehearsing what I read…line by line, passage by passage. I have a clear memory of repeating verses from the chapter in a dressing room at the mall while my mom tried on clothes. For the first time in my life, I was being immersed in truth.
It absolutely changed my life. Though I received a massive bag of M&Ms at the end of that week for having successfully memorized the entire chapter, the spiritual rewards I’ve reaped from then on have been far greater. (Don’t take that statement lightly. I LOOOOVE M&Ms.)
Growing up, I had always cared about honoring God. I just never knew, really, how to do it or whether I would slip up at any given moment. And then, what would I do about my slip-ups? I often felt that He was far off and was not sure how to access Him, or even if I was worthy to access Him. The Bible always seemed too big and vast for me. Where would I even start? I felt reading it was for people much smarter and older than I. Finding that I could store God’s own words in my heart was revolutionary for me. No matter where I was or what circumstance had befallen me, I had direct access to my heavenly Father, His wisdom, His comfort, His peace, His strength. His word was being stored in my heart as a stock-pile of riches, nourishment, and weapons for battle.
As a parent, I’ve flailed and failed over and over at my many attempts to grow my children spiritually. Despite my commitment to our daily devotions, our countless conversations (in which they often tune me out), and all my other strivings to get them to desire God, I’ve found that I really can’t change their hearts. I can’t make them choose Jesus. I can’t bring transformation in their lives. I can’t even really convict them of sin…though I try. The truth is that God’s power is not found in my striving. As I learned at the age of 10, it is God’s word that holds the power to do all of this and more.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Teaching, reproof, correction, instruction for righteousness….sure sounds a lot like parenting. That they may be adequate, equipped for every good work….this is what my heart longs for for my children.
And so, the most important and effective thing I do to invest in our kids spiritually is that very same discipline that opened my eyes to the treasure-trove of scripture all those years ago. We memorize God’s word together. This is not me teaching and testing them. This is us at the kitchen table, repeating a chunk of God’s words together, often with hand motions that help us remember what comes next. This is me messing it up and having to be corrected. This is me admitting that I don’t know what is meaningful about my head being anointed with oil and then having to go look it up. This is me trusting that God’s words will have greater effect in all of our lives than any words I could say.
Levi told me a couple mornings ago that he’d had a nightmare the night before. Normally, he has a very hard time going back to sleep after having bad dreams. This time, though, he hadn’t come upstairs to find comfort. He’d come to his heavenly Father through His word. He said that he began reciting the current passage we are working on, Psalm 121: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth…”. He said he was able to fall quickly back to sleep. I thanked God for this experience for Levi. He sought God out on his own on the basis of His word and found Him able and willing to meet his immediate need.
This is no revolutionary concept. It is merely seeking out God together and practicing the discipline of storing His word in our hearts. We do it together because I need it just as badly as they do. It’s so good for us to go to the diamond mine of God’s word together, joyfully gathering as much as we can hold each day. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to do this. All of God’s word is worth our time to consider and store in our hearts. If you need a good place to start, check out Psalm 121 with us!
As you can see from our video, we are still working on getting it right. However, as you can see from Levi’s bad dream, you can be in process of getting it right and still experience the effectiveness of the scripture’s work in your heart and mind!