Our church has an AWANA ministry, and it's pretty cool. I had never seen AWANA in action until this last year, since no church I'd been a part of offered it. I've known for most of my life that one of the hallmarks of a mature Christian is that they love God's word. Seeing children learn Scripture weekly is exciting. But do you wonder, like I do, if memorizing is enough?
I memorized the trumpet scales when I was a high school freshman, but only because of my competitive nature. I memorized the multiplication tables in third grade, but I can't say I went on to love multiplication. I'm sure I memorized a dozen different things because I had to, and that basic preparation allowed me to build upon rote memory for more important purposes. By learning scales, my fingers were better prepared for intricate tunes and my ear was trained to hear chord progressions. By memorizing the multiplication tables, I could go on to more advanced math problems and handle money wisely.
In the same way, the payoff for memorizing God's word is not in the memorization itself but in what we can do with His word. Sure, memorization comes in handy for Bible trivia games. Being able to rattle off verses impresses some folks, but these benefits do not begin to approach the highest value of knowing God's word. God's word has power; power to change your heart, which then changes your actions, which ultimately changes your life trajectory. Because I want God's word to do these things in my life, I delight in it.
Psalm 119 is all about God's word, and while memorizing a section of it, I stumbled on a powerful and personal insight. The process of memorizing this passage (verses 9-16) involved repetition, and as I repeated the section, I suddenly realized a new application. God used the focused effort of memorization to unfold the meaning of key words as they applied to my book, Parenting UnChained. I had felt a little uncomfortable that my book was not so much focused on direct parenting verses but on the ways God behaved like a parent in Scripture. Clearly, what God commands us as parents is critical, but His ways of behaving, though sometimes obscure, are also of value, aren't they? I hoped so, since that was the heart of my book.
Psalm 119:15 says 'I will meditate on Your precepts, I will contemplate Your ways.' I saw for the first time that my book was the result of the second half of that verse. My book contemplated the ways of God related to parenting. Many times Psalm 119 talks about the value when I 'meditate on Your precepts,' but I had never noticed before the phrase 'contemplate Your ways.' Those three words validated my approach, and gave me an espresso shot of joy. Verse 16 follows by saying 'I will delight myself in Your statutes, I will not forget Your word.'
Does God's word delight you? Do you crave it like a thirsty man craves water? You should, and so should I. Knowing Scripture by memory is a wonderful goal, but don't stop there! Pursue God's word until you delight in it. Then you will not forget it. Next time, we'll talk about how we help our children delight in God's word.