A major part of my spiritual walk is Scripture Memory (as if you couldn’t tell from the blog, right?). After Christ himself, Scripture is the Lord’s most concrete revelation of his character and love toward mankind. Scripture in the Holy Canon shows us God’s personhood not through a single lens but through a library of experiences and narratives; the 66 books provide us with a veritable literary buffet showcasing the beauty of the Lord through stories about him, messages from him, and praises toward him.
The Bible is a gift to mankind from God himself, and it is a book that continues to be read daily by millions, gradually changing them from their inside depravity to outward gracious living; and be assured, this is the result of engaging the Scriptures well. If one reads them without a deep desire to understand them, one simply won’t. This is not to say that the Bible is a “magic book” or codex hiding meaning to all but a chosen few. On the contrary, the Bible is a book that is accessible to those willing to understand it (it’s a “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” sort of thing, not unlike much of human art). The Bible is an extended collection of love letters from God, telling us that he loves mankind, why he loves mankind, and how he loves mankind, not because of mankind’s virtue but God’s own grace and mercy. For all the misinterpretation that happens (and it does), the Bible is a beautiful work.
In my first novel, Stronghold, I focus extensively on the Bible as the Sword used by The Believer in his battle against sin. He clings to it for security in the midst of tumult, he uses it to vanquish demons who assail him, and he spends time honing his relationship to it. Of course, that’s merely in his fantasy. In the real world, he uses the Bible in direct defense against temptation, reading through the Psalms aloud in the midst of battling his deep desire to sin. This portion of the text comes directly from a personal experience of mine. The Psalms from which I read have been presented within a different order and volume within the novel, but the experience described in the pages is still true to the event.
The night in question is, in fact, one of the most poignant memories in my spiritual life. Few other times have I experienced God’s nearness and deliverance so vividly. The act of reading the worship, confessions, and supplications of fellow believers filled me with a powerful sense of connecting with not only the Lord himself but the Psalms themselves, experiencing them as they were intended.
What’s more, the Psalms I read were not random. They were Psalms I had jotted into a notebook during a read through the Chronological NIV earlier in the year–meaning that I read them not as they were usually presented in the single book of Psalms but spread throughout Scriptural stories when they were written. I just so happened to read far enough in the chronological Bible to reach them, and I had just so happened to write them for memorization. Months before the evening in question, the groundwork for the Psalms I would read that night was laid. Quite a story.
That being said, if you are reading the Scriptures now and if you are studying, memorizing, and engaging them with a deep desire to understand and be changed, be confident in your efforts. The Lord could be preparing your heart today to hold fast in a situation five months from now, one that you cannot foresee or predict but will be distinctly affected by your studies and how you are putting the Word of the Lord in your heart in the present. You never know how God is working, but he always is.
Stay in the Scriptures. Adore them. And be blessed.
Thanks for reading all,
PS – This post was bordering on overly long already, so I didn’t want to toss this in the middle of it, but if you’re interested, here are the original Psalms through which I read in 2011, presented in an unabridged early draft of Stronghold.
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak, O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. …but I have trust in your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. …To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in you. Let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Turn yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. …Lord, all my desire is before you; and my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pants, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes, it has gone from me. …For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. …Do not forsake me, O Lord, O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, My Salvation. …Do not withhold your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me. For innumerable enemies have surrounded me. …Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. …For you are my hope. O Lord God, you are my trust from my youth. …O God, do not be far from me, O My God, make haste to help me. …O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. …For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. …but my eyes are upon you, O God the Lord; in you I take refuge. Do not leave my soul destitute. …I spread out my hands to you; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land. … Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down in to the pit. Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift my soul to you. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; in You, I take shelter. Teach me to do you well, for you are my God; your spirit is good. Lead me in the land of Uprightness. Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake! For you righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. …As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. …For a day in your court is better than a thousand. I would rather be doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. …In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. …I will set nothing wicked before me eyes; I will hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Inclusion of this translation does not imply endorsement of this author’s thoughts by the copyright holders.