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Memorization: Laying Down Our Rebel Hearts

Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
Isaiah 1:5

“Great is the Lord, and bmmmbsflk mumble jumble…” I heard my daughter say, as we were working on her memory verse for Awana.

“Sweetie, I can’t hear you. You need to speak up and speak clearly.” My insides were churning with rising anger while I attempted to keep the tone of my voice patient and kind. I had stated this verse to her dozens of times. I knew she knew it; I could hear her mumbling it, for goodness sake! And yet the quiet, rebellious heart I have seen in her since she was in the womb was rising up in her each time I asked her to say it herself. Mumbles. Whispers. Silence. Stares. And finally, tears.

“I don’t want to do this!” she cried out. I remembered how often I have felt the same. The work, the practicing, the repeating…it is so annoying. So not fun. I remembered the countless times I have seen in myself this same stubbornness to do things my way, the rebelliousness to not practice as I’ve been told, and the pride I have held that I could breeze through life without exerting effort.

Memorization is hard work. And for some of us who have this natural instinct that wants to go against the grain and not do what we’re told or not put much effort into the process of preparation…this “task” of memorizing can cause that rebel heart to sprout up within us. In the smallest of tasks we are challenged to do, the rebel heart can be stirred awake, make our heads sick with excuses, and our spirits faint with the inability to do the appointed work.

So, our question for today is, as many First Free women around us commit to pursue the hard work of putting scripture to memory, will we surrender the rebellion that we harbor? Will we search our hearts and bravely ask the Lord to reveal how we can die to self in this task? Will we put effort and practice into learning his Word? For, this isn’t about us, is it? It’s about his eternal Word that stands forever in the heavens, his exaltation in our hearts, and his abundant glory to be spread over all the earth. Yes, even in this smallest of tasks, that is what it is about.

Many of us may not struggle as intensely with this willful rebellion; for myself, I see others being so much more teachable than I am nearly every day! I stand in awe of their ease to surrender their opinions and the way they think things should be, and I always desperately wish I was more like them. For I know in the very depths of my heart that I cannot be like them; all my efforts to surrender and submit to my teachers and leaders has failed to help me. Rebellion still stirs and wakens when I hear the call to do something that I haven’t thought of doing myself.

But glory be to the Most High God! There is hope for us stubborn, rebellious ones yet. For we know that we are weak in this, that we cannot be strong, and that we need to hold tightly to the example of willful surrender that Christ has demonstrated to us. For Christ himself prayed that his cup of suffering would be taken away, yet the Father told him to continue his path of obedience, his path of preparation, his path of burial, his path of dying. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, who did not harbor a rebel heart as we so often do, but was without sin and – get this –actually listened to his Father’s voice!

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39

Even in the effort we must make to memorize his Word, the time we must commit, the space in our brains we must surrender, the books or the shows or the crafts we must lay aside for a time, Christ can and will do a work of great proportion in us. Do you know why? Because, beloved ones, we who are so rebellious and fail to listen to the Lord in the smallest of things, have been lavished with not only forgiveness, but with Christ’s life of great surrender. May we ask for the willingness to lay down our rebel hearts and allow God to prompt us by his faithful Spirit to do the work involved. And in so doing, as we lay down these rebel hearts towards this very small task, we will see his work of transformation, the supernatural ability to take up our cross, the power to follow him, and the miraculous willingness to die to self. I’m quite convinced that when we lay down our rebel hearts, he will, in fact, change our “I don’t want to do this!” to, “Lord, I want to know more of you!” Surely, surely he will do it!