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Memorization: Laying Down Our [In]Security

I glanced over as slyly, as secretly, and as nonchalantly as I could to the woman sitting next to me. She had an array of Bible study tools out before her. Propped side by side upon the “dash” of the train window was her Bible, her reading book, her Bible study book, her snack, her drink…she was ready.

In her hand at the moment, was her Memorization Booklet from her Tuesday Connection study. She was on week 2, I could tell, because she was memorizing the same verse I was supposed to be working on – Philippians 1:9-11.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more…”

I remembered how I had packed for this trip and toyed with the idea of taking my own Memorization Booklet. I had chosen to leave it behind thinking, “I don’t want any of my Christian friends to think I’m a goody goody, always studying and reading and…” I thought of it still lying where I had left it, propped beside my couch at home on the end table.

My friend’s next words cut into my thoughts, “Oh, I remember it one moment and five minutes later I’ve already forgotten it!” I slyly and extra discreetly glanced over at her again because, had I misheard her? Was she really struggling with this discipline as I was? At her age? At her “spiritual maturity”? She seemed carefree and was laughing at herself, but still wholeheartedly and gladly plugging along with her verse and finding value in God’s Word.

What hit me was this: here was my friend, literally decades older than me and more “spiritually mature” than me, faithfully memorizing her weekly bible verses. She was unashamed of her progress (whether little or much), unashamed of the content (God’s Word spoken aloud!), and unashamed of any sly eyes –whether from friend or foe – leering at her from the crowded seats beside her (like mine, egads!).

I wonder what insecurity – or security – do you find in this task of memorizing the Word of God? Perhaps “going public” with it, allowing others to “see” you doing it? Maybe feeling “bummed out” when you see the size and rate of your memory work compared to another’s? Or perhaps you are like me, longing to have his Word reside, but not wanting to appear to be too much of a goody goody Christian before others?

Oh, what self-absorption can be found residing in our hearts! Insecurity – this lack of confidence about ourselves or our ability to do things well, the nervous and uncomfortable feeling we get the moment our walls of security are tried, this uncertainty of success, this feeling of being unprotected, ill-equipped, insufficient, not smart enough, under-valued – isn’t just the hidden pride of self-absorption; it is the secret source of self-reliance.

The absorption with our inadequacies, the dwelling upon our stupidity, the second guessing of our abilities…it all really boils down to a belief. It is a belief that our talents must be, should be, worth something. It is a belief that our talents, as low and weak as we might see them to be, should be sufficient and that we should be able to have more confidence in them.

This is different than glorying in our weakness, as Paul does, isn’t it? Because when insecurity clings to our souls with the strongest of grips and has a tight hold upon our deepest parts and most secret thoughts, there is no room for us to rely upon Christ and to find him sufficient. Instead it hinders us from being truly focused upon bringing the Father much glory, it keeps us frombelieving that it is he and he alone who can do the tasks he calls us to, and it stifles the Spirit’s freedom to bear lasting fruit in us.

There is a lack of confidence we have in this particular task of memorizing. Is it causing us to hinder the work of the Spirit in us? Is it paralyzing us from allowing him to do with us all he desires to do? To “go as far” or “go as deep” as he wishes, even in this task? Is it causing us to put false reliance or significance upon our own abilities, speech, mind, etc?

May we together lay down our adequacies and our inadequacies, our securities and our insecurities, before our almighty and very sufficient God. For surely then we will find that the power of Christ will rest on us and that even in this task, he shall do a work in us that causes us to declare the praises of him who called us up out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Surely! Surely he will not allow this discipline of memory to go wasted and unused!

So find your book, pick it up, and rest your mind in the fact that it is Christ who will do this work in you and for you, and it is Christ who will keep you secure and unashamed of the task before you.