Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still learning.. :)

     I remember when...
     Actually, now that I'm almost sixty - the sad truth is that I .... don't always :)
     When I was in undergraduate school, I had a professor who made us memorize phrases from poetry and prose.  We used to groan about Dr. Nolte's classes; now, however, I am  grateful for the way Dr. Nolte held our noses to the grindstone and in doing so, gave me a deeper love for the written word.      In graduate school, I continued memorizing on my own, falling in love in particular with passages from Shakespeare's Richard II.  
     It was while I was in graduate school that I got my first car... My very first new vehicle: a red Subaru with front-wheel drive!!!  I researched that vehicle upside down and inside out  via Consumer Reports before I ever even looked at it in the flesh.. or in the metal, I guess I should say.
   And then, shortly after I drove it home, someone keyed it.
  For real... My brand new car had a fairly deep scratch mark across  the passenger door.
  I was livid.
  Add to that the fact that I absolutely hated my boss.
 And then throw some family problems into the mix and the result was chronic anger on my part.
 Then I went to a weekend conference where the leaders were Tim and Beverly LaHaye.  (This was waaaayyy before the Left Behind series).  I don't remember much about that conference except that we were encouraged to memorize Scripture as a way of getting a handle on negative thought patterns.  Since I often spent my daily commute from LR to Conway thinking about what I'd like to do to my boss (who was making my job super hard) not to mention what I'd like  to do to  the unknown guy who vandalized my brand new car, you could say I was having a little problem with angry thoughts....
  So I bought LaHaye's book on how to study the Bible and began to memorize the verses in his Scripture memory program:  three verses a week.  It was easy to do since I was commuting an hour every day and had an econo box of a car that had no radio. (Yes, they used to make them like that back then...)
  Then my brother got into Navigators at his base in California and so one holiday, when he was home on furlough, we decided to memorize the Navigator's basic sixty pack.  Actually, we made it a competition - the one who could say all sixty with the least mistakes would be the winner. The "loser" would have to treat the winner to a meal at their restaurant of choice.  Because I had memorized most of the Nav. Sixty already, it was super easy for me to win that competition and I enjoyed my steak dinner thoroughly!  However, after that, my brother who is more disciplined than I am, left me behind in the dust, going on to memorize hundreds of verses while he jogged five miles every day. (Go figure...!)
  The point of all this - and there is a point, I promise - is that I'm once again trying to memorize verses after a long hiatus.  And as I've worked on Scripture, I've found it's easier to go back to the translation I was using in my twenties, even though that translation (NASB 1977 edition) is more stilted.  On top of that, I'm finding that verses I haven't memorized in years, haven't even thought about, are  coming back with very little review time. And, in addition, I'm finding that running Scripture through my mind is helping me in a multitude of ways - but especially in helping me to remain calm and focused on God when I'm tempted to rant, rave, and/or pull my hair.
   As I go back and look at verses that were once a daily part of my life, two memories stand out.
   First, I dated a non-Christian for 4 years and by the fourth year, we were talking marriage.  However, the issue of religion was a stumbling block to our union.  One day he commented on how much nicer (!) I had been  - how I had changed and was so much more comfortable with myself and others. I asked him when he first noticed this change; he thought about it and replied that it dated back 12 months. I asked him if he was sure about the time frame and he said he was.  So then I put on my thinking cap and realized that I had started memorizing Scripture one year earlier! When I told him that, he immediately regretted saying that and joked that maybe the change had occurred in the last six weeks and he'd just made a mistake.  But the damage was done ;) and I wouldn't let him forget what he'd said!

   Then came a summer when I didn't take summer school and no longer had the long drive-time in which to memorize so I quit working on memory verses. One day about mid-summer,  my mom told me that I had been hard to get along with for about six weeks - that she'd seen a definite change in my attitude and wanted to know what was going on.  I thought about it and realized that was exactly when I had quit memorizing Scripture!
  As I've gotten out my old Bible, started memorizing again, and had these memories come back, I realize that I would have been a lot better wife, mom, friend, and colleague if I'd worked on Scripture memory over the last few years of teaching, when the stress was really getting to me big-time.
  Now, I'm just grateful to re-discover the peace that comes from running the wisdom of the Bible through my mind on a daily basis.

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