memoryWhy You Need to (and can!) Memorize Scripture

The cover story for the November 2007 issue of National Geographic features a fascinating analysis of the human memory. The article tells the story of AJ, a 41-year-old-woman with an amazing ability to remember nearly every moment of her life since age 11. On the opposite end of the spectrum is EP, who suffered severe brain damage as a result of the herpes simplex virus. Consequently, he is incapable of forming new memories and forgets every conversation within just a few seconds. The article is summarized well by its simple subtitle: “In the archives of the brain our lives linger or disappear.”

Technically speaking, the memory is the faculty by which our minds store and retrieve information. Practically speaking, however, it’s much more than a stored pattern of connections between neurons in the brain; nearly every expression of your individuality comes from the archives of your memory. Your favorite foods and personal preferences, the ability to recognize the face of a loved one, and even reading this paragraph in English depends entirely on your capacity to remember.

Although neuroscience had yet to discover the phenomena of the human brain, the Psalmist’s decision to spend the “night watches” awake in meditation on Scripture (Ps. 119:148) makes absolute sense when we consider the immeasurable impact memory has on daily life. Certainly memory capacity may differ from person to person, but I’m increasingly convinced that the content of a person’s memory is much more impactful than its quality.

Yes, Scripture memory is hard. Yes, it takes time. Yes, you may be the only one in your family to do it. But according to Jesus, His words abiding in us isn’t optional:

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”  (John 15:7)

The human soul needs conversion. David declared, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7). Human eyes are dim and in need of enlightenment. The Psalmist continued, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:8). Conformity to the image of Christ never happens by accident, but is achieved by those who immerse themselves in Scripture, meditate on it, and put it into practice. In that light, may it be said of us as it was said of the disciples following Christ’s resurrection: “And they remembered His Words” (Lu. 24:8).

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