24/7. Constant media. Instant communication. Endless entertainment. Sounds. Sights. Distractions. Every minute our minds and souls are bombarded. And far too often we let it in. While many of us spend time with the Lord daily, the world still sneaks in and overwhelms us more than we realize. Add to that our flesh-it is on a constant mission to fulfill its desires. Our thinking gets stuck on anxiety, fear, control, desires, dreams, friends, family, loneliness, self; it all consumes our minds and hearts more than Jesus and His Word. We are far too easily captivated by lesser things.
I have been convicted in the last year of how much time I waste. It was easy to come home from a long day of work and not want to use my brain for anything. So I would waste time by zoning out for a bit on social media, “catching up” with friends, or reading my favorite blogs. The majority of the time, I didn’t end up feeling productive or that I had just spent a lovely time worshiping Jesus.
“It was still easy to pull my phone out when I had two minutes to kill.”
I started to spend less time on social media and such, but I still was wasting time. It was still easy to pull my phone out when I had two minutes to kill. Those two minutes (or ten) waiting in line? There’s an easy fix for that boredom! We see it all around us—people with their noses in their phones so much that they walk into dangerous situations, and some die because of it.
Are we as believers any better? Some of us yes, some of us no. I’ve seen it, sadly I’ve done it: sitting in a church gathering when out comes the phone, under the guise of using the Bible app, thinking no one notices, while actually checking Facebook or Instagram. While this might be more tempting to the younger generation, there are a hundred distractions that we all have in our lives. It might be your phone, Netflix or the TV. Or it might be the thoughts you get stuck on and the what-ifs that consume your mind. Or it might be the “tape player of thinking” that is on repeat with worries, anxieties, fears, comparisons, and bitterness.
How do we combat all these distractions? Let me give you one option: memorizing Scripture. I read Janet Pope’s book His Word in My Heart, and was challenged to replace my poorly used time, downtime, and bored/brain-dead moments with His Word. We know that in order to change, we must put off sin, and then we must replace it with the opposite virtue. We need to replace worship of lesser things in our lives with worshiping Jesus. Janet shares how memorizing has changed her life, how she uses little moments to memorize and meditate, how meditating changes her heart, as the Word soaks into every crevice, helping her love God more. She challenges us to memorize whole books and keep them memorized long term. It sounds overwhelming. But she shows how it doesn’t have to be, how anyone can do it and she gives a lot of tips to help. (She was a mom with young children when she started). She has over 20 books memorized and she shares her system of rehearsing them.
“Replace ... poorly used time, downtime, and bored/brain-dead moments with His Word.”
I have been memorizing verses with a couple college friends for about 14 years. We do two verses a week. We email them once a week to each other, working our way through a book we’ve picked, then onto another book when we’re done. This has been a great way to consistently memorize over the years. Accountability is a great motivator and encouragement to keep going. So as I embarked on this new adventure of memorizing whole books and retaining what I’ve memorized, I asked my mom to join me. I started Ephesians and she started Colossians. We try to quote to each other once a week what we have memorized so far. And God has helped us and blessed us in the process.
I have grown in using little moments to memorize and meditate. I don’t have nearly the temptation to pull out my phone (taking social media apps off my phone helped a lot!). I do not have as many wasted moments anymore. Instead, I start quoting my verses or working on today’s new verse. It has been a sweet journey as I’ve grown in meditating on God’s Word as I’m quoting it, turning the Word into prayer, seeing connections between verses and other passages and books because I’m quoting and thinking on larger passages.
Janet memorizes about a verse a day. I usually do about one verse every two days (although as I’ve done this for three months now, I find I’m faster). Sometimes I have to stop and review for a couple days to lock in the last passage. I have Ephesians printed out and posted in the bathroom so I can look at it when I’m getting ready, and also have a copy in my car, and of course, on my phone. My memory partners quote verses out loud, write them on index cards, and get their kids to memorize with them.
I challenge you to join us! Put down the distractions, and pick up His Word. Borrow Janet’s book from me and be encouraged that you too can do it. My mom and I would love to share with you what we have memorized so far, as an encouragement to you that anyone can memorize! Just come find us and ask us to quote what we have so far.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinner, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his 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 1:1-3a