Monday, 30 March 2015

Week #2 - Pick a Memory Verse

The heart of simplicity is immersion in a life lived with God.  We voluntarily step away from all that distracts us from Kingdom living in order to keep the presence of God at the forefront of our lives.  We seek God's kingdom; we meditate on His word; we look for the guidance and direction of the Spirit.  There is no better tool for helping us develop this single-hearted focus than the constant meditative reading of Holy Scripture. 

One of the easiest ways to integrate the words of God into the living of our lives is the practice of weekly memory verses.  It is a shame that the practice so often promoted in Sunday Schools is left behind as we grow older.  Maybe this is why the modern day Christian has an increasing unfamiliarity with the Bible.  The Bible is not a book that can be read only once and then put back on the shelf.  Our relationship with the Biblical text must be a living and active relationship – just as the Bible itself is the living and active word of God.  To this end, Scripture consistently reminds us of the need to keep returning to God’s word.  For example, Joshua charges Israel with the words “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8), and the Psalmist declares ‘I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.’ (Psalm 119:16).
The practice of choosing a weekly memory verse helps us to sit with the biblical text.  The purpose is not the mere ability to recall chapter and verse, but the bringing of the verse deep into our lives.  We seek to implant the word within.  The verse becomes foundational for us and becomes the very soil to which the Christian life blossoms.  This is true single-hearted focus upon God.
Picking a memory verse does not have to be difficult.  Simply start with one of your favourite verses.  Or, you can pick a verse from one of the readings heard during Sunday worship.  It may take a while to remember the exact wording of the verse.  That’s ok.  But once you have the verse clear in mind, then allow that verse to sit in your mind as you go through the tasks of the day.   You may, in any given moment, reflect on particular parts of the verse.  The point is to allow the verse to speak to you.  As you rehearse the verse, remember it as God’s voice speaking into your life.  In moments when you feel distracted, or tempted to step outside of this mindfulness, simply recall the verse and allow it to take you back to the state of holy attentiveness.
Remember, these are weekly memory verses.  It is a dangerous habit to merely read a verse of scripture once and believe that we have heard all it has to say.  The word of God is dynamic and has the power to touch various different areas of our lives –  if we allow it to do so.  Sitting with a memory verse for an entire week  has the benefit of slowing us down.  We do not force our memorization, nor rush any ‘insights’ we receive the particular verse.  Rather, we give the verse time to simmer within, developing its truth in subtler and stronger ways.
St. Paul reminds us to be ‘transformed by the renewing of our minds.’ (Romans 12:2)  By keeping a verse of scripture in our minds amid a week of activity and demands we become more conscious of the presence of God.  The rehearsal of the memory verse opens us up to the voice of God and the nudges of the Spirit.  As time goes on, that which may have seemed hard at the beginning, becomes easier. The recitation of the memory verse becomes an expression of our internal focus upon God’s kingdom.

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