Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Use It or Lose It

So many of my struggles have nothing to do with not knowing the truth, and everything to do with believing, living, what I know. Can I get an amen?

I've seen this dynamic most recently as I think about Scripture memorization, having just come off of Mega Memory Month not long ago. By the grace of God, I have finished memorizing Ephesians 1-2. He has also enabled me to hide much more of His Word in my heart over the last few years, from Romans 8 to the gospel narrative to scattered comforting verses from Habakkuk to Revelation, Genesis to Luke.

But I'm finding that although I have all this Scripture in my head, it does me no good.

At least, these memorized Words of Life are useless when buried deep in the recesses of my brain. If I don't rehearse them frequently, the problem isn't simply that I'll forget them. Even before they slip from my memory, the problem is that they aren't helping me. You see, memorized Words of Life are useful only when I stop passively listening to my inner monologue and make the effort, take the time, to recite them.

Paul uses fightin' words to talk about the life of the mind: take every thought captive to obey Christ, he urges us. Yet I stumble through each day passive and lazy, content to be carried along by every whim of my inner monologue. My default mode is listening--to thoughts that are unhelpful at best and seductive lies at worst; to emotions that are fickle and untrustworthy.

But God has not left me defenseless in the face of these thoughts that wage war against my soul. He has gone far beyond even giving me a copy of His Word to read. He has given me the ability to commit these Words to my memory, to have them ready at any moment, in any place. He has graciously equipped me for battle--will I stand up and FIGHT?

I have to ask myself: What good is memorizing for the sake of memorizing? Have I learned these Scriptures so that others will be impressed with me, so that I can be impressed with myself? Or have I learned them "that I might not sin against You", so that I am equipped for battle? A sword is completely useless if it never comes out of its sheath!

It takes effort to move from passive listening to dialogue with the living God--to preach to yourself nourishing, inspiring, empowering, beautiful Truth. It's hard to discipline yourself to think through and speak through the words of Scripture, easier instead to let your mind drift wherever it may.

But the hardest part of the effort has already been accomplished. I don't have to go find a Bible or read a verse posted on the wall; it's already in my mind! All I have to do is USE it. And in using it, I demonstrate trust. I look to God's unchanging Word and character, not my always-shifting emotions, to interpret reality. I display the conquering power of the sword He has given me.

So I'd ask you today if you're still following through with your 100 days of reinforcement, if you've retained what you worked so hard to memorize in January. But the more important question is, are you using what you learned? Are you seizing that sword and fighting?


Danielle said...

Well, you're still one step ahead of me. I'm still trying to LEARN the verses I wanted to learn. Now that the every morning throw up period has ended for me I'm hoping to not have to deal with that interruption during my quiet times, which was the bulk of when I did my memorizing. Trying to the memorizing through out the day hasn't worked for me thus far. AND daylight savings time is coming up and hopefully my little 6 am waker will now wake at 7 am!

But I hear what you're saying.

Tom Gabbard said...

Ah, to be doers of the word and not hearers only is the tough part!