Time and time again as a teenager, I put on an overly sexy pair of glasses (as shown in the picture below) and attempted to dribble a basketball down a court. At the height of my 15-year-old awkward stage (and let’s be honest…this stage lasted from about 8 until 26), my coach compared me to a baby giraffe. I’m sure you have fantastic images running through your minds at this point. Put these babies on, dribble a ball, run down a court with 12 other girls doing the same thing. I can barely run in a straight line most days and now you want to cut off 60% of my peripheral vision?! Pure madness the very first time these were ever used.
Dad how many more times do I have to do this? Oh 500 more…okay…
Keep your elbow in. Look through the goal. Get on the line. Sprint Baby Steps (what?!). Defensive slides. Ugh. Defensive slides, you are from Satan!
At one point these things were difficult, but at the end of the year the not-so-baby-giraffe girl could easily run down the court, with the sexy specs…and not lose the ball. And it paid off! Being the first team from our town to go to the state tournament in over 35 years felt good. I realize we were able to accomplish what we did because we focused on fundamentals.
I think about a fundamental of my walk with Christ that I’ve been neglecting for years…and I think about the goodness and depth of the word I may be missing out on because I simply chalk it up to being too difficult.
Dallas Willard said that Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.
Our minds are constantly being filled. Television, sports, hobbies, worries, social media, random blog posts, stress, planning, busy-ness…whatever it may be, but what if we filled our minds with what we need?
Chuck Swindoll agrees as he said I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.
After being challenged by all of this, I spent 2.5 hours trying to memorize the first part of 1 John 1 (I have four verses tackled). As I read, recited, spoke, screwed up and started over, read, listened, and recited more, the message was illuminated in a new light. Words became clear. The scene became real. The point made sense!
I discovered a preacher named Andy Naselli yesterday. I have listened to him for just over two hours in my whole life. In the first 3 minutes of the first “sermon” I was a fan. In a humble manner he informed his church that he was going to do something out of the norm. His sermon consisted of a very brief overview, he prayed, RECITED THE WHOLE BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS (by memory), and prayed to close. The WHOLE book.
We often seek out flashy pastors or charismatic speakers who excite us or motivate us, but this was 100% completely different. He presented his church with the word and prayed the word would do what the word would do. (That repetition is on purpose.)
His prayer prior to reciting this book was that it would be as if the people were hearing it for the first time and that the message would overwhelm. That it would wound and heal. Instruct and exhort. Convict and encourage. The word of God is powerful!
There was zero commentary. There was zero breaking it down. There was zero explanation. He recited the word of God by memory for 54 minutes. And it was magnificent! Not him. Not his ability! But hearing the Word was magnificent.
Sure it’s great to have someone explain, to teach, to assist with understanding certain scriptures…but to simply experience the word and what it does in a refreshing way was incredible. (The link’s below if you want to check it out.)
I’m going to continue on my shorter 1 John chapter 1 journey as a start in trying to instill this very fundamental yet powerful discipline into my life. So if any of you see me walking down the street this week, feel free to ask me to spill it to you (because reciting is Andy’s tip #11 for memorization)…or you feel free to start memorizing it too and then just spill it all to me!
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.