Learning to Re-Memberize the Word of God

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January 9, 2020

Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

CONSIDER THIS

We began these five formative Spirit empowered practices for engaging the Word of God with Reading (Hearing). Yesterday we covered Rumination (Meditating). Today we turn to our next practice which we find in Psalm 119:11, our First Word—Last Word text for the day.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

The R word (and middle finger from our mnemonic device) is RE-MEMBERIZE. I know. It’s not actually a word, but this practice is so distinctive it merited the invention of a new word altogether. Perhaps you think I mean to say memorize. I don’t. Let me tell you the story of the word’s origin.

Years ago, when my oldest son, David, was four or five, we were working with him on memorizing Scripture. One day he rounded the corner into the kitchen with gleeful excitement and this announcement, “Mom! Dad! I finally REMEMBERIZED it!” I’ve never forgotten it.

We all know what memorization means. It’s that frenetic thing you do the night before a big exam in order to pass the test. We load in the information and we pour it out on the paper and in most cases, we promptly flush it into the nether regions of our skull or some other crevasse of our small intestines.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

Memorization quick-loads our short term memory. Re-memberization is of another order. It slow-loads our long term memory. As an example consider my grandmother (a.k.a. Meemaw), who had severe dementia for the last decade of her life. She could not remember who I was, but the minute I started praying the Lord’s prayer or saying the Apostles Creed or singing “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” she was right there with me—every. . . single. . . word. . . This is because she was in church for some seventy years—every. . . single. . . Sunday . . . saying the Lord’s Prayer and declaring the creed and singing the songs. She slow loaded her long term memory. She had re-memberized it.

Maybe this is why the word, “remember,” may be the most repeated and significant word in the whole Bible. To remember something is quite different than memorizing something. My Meemaw, and likely yours too, shows us how remembering actually survives complete memory loss. It’s why there is no substitute for the long slow work of every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade. To re-member something is to re-attach to it in practical ways. Memorization is a brain activity. Re-membering requires soul level engagement.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

I like how the English Standard Version translates this text from Psalm 119:11. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. This “storing up” comes from the Deuteronomy 6:4-9 every day, all the time, when I lay down, when I rise up, when I walk along the road Word of God way of life.

So how do we re-memberize? There are lots of ways. Let me share a practice I implemented with my children when they were young that continues to the present and which I have also share in with friends on a daily and weekly basis now. I would like to call it texting but that’s kind of been taken now. Let’s call it “Versing.” I repeat the first half of a verse and the other person says the latter part.

Me: I have hidden your word in my heart. . .

You: That I might not sin against you.

I like to practice “Versing” with text messaging. I text the first part (the call) and a friend texts back the rest (the response). Here are some more of my more recent go-to texts for Versing. 

Me: My soul magnifies the Lord,

You: And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:46)

Me: Wake up, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,

You: And Christ will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:14)

Me: Come magnify the Lord with me,

You: And let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

Every morning on the way to school my youngest, Sam (14), and I do Versing with the 23rd Psalm and lately with Proverbs 3:5-6. I’m going to try and audio record it tomorrow and share it with our Seedbed Daily Text Facebook Group.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

One last bit here. Note the purpose listed in Psalm 119:11: “that I might not sin against you.” In this instance, the Hebrew word for sin means, “missing the mark.” We tend to read this in a behavioral and moralistic framework (i.e. we hide God’s word in our heart to keep us from misbehaving). There is a better framing. We hide God’s word in our heart so we might hit the bullseye of the target for our lives. We hide God’s word in our heart so our lives will be filled with joy and resplendent with the glory of God. We hide God’s word in our heart because this is the one in whose image we are created and for whose purposes we are crafted.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.

THE PRAYER

Our Father in Heaven, thank you for your Word, which endures forever. Thank you for this invitation to slow load our long term memory with your Word. I want to become a rememberizer. I love your word, Lord. Help me hide in my heart that I might not sin against you and even more so that my life might hit the bullseye of the target of your perfect will in all that I am and in all that I do. Lead me to those words you wish for me to store up in my heart and give me the day by day grace to do it. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

THE QUESTION

How do you go about hiding God’s word in your heart? How will you? What are those every day slow-loading ways you have discovered along the path?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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