I remember in Sunday school we would be given the challenge of memorising the verse of the week and whoever could repeat the verse off by heart would get the prize which was usually one tiny sweet so it wasn’t exactly winning the lottery or anything like that.
As a child you are often told what to do but never really why you do it. I was the annoying child and still the annoying adult that has to know the ‘why’ and always asks ‘why?’. Sometimes when I had asked ‘why?’ for the 100th time that day my mum (who is such a patient person) would say, “because ‘y’ has a long tail and two branches”, referring to the letter ‘y’ and not my question ‘why?’. Sometimes as a child you get the answers to your questions straight away, sometimes you don’t ever get them (but we’ll talk about unanswered questions a different day) and sometimes you find out the answers as you grow older. It always make me chuckle when I type, write or say “as you get older” because I’m not 80 I’m only 23, practically fresh out of the womb but you get what I mean. Anyway, in this blog I want to share the answer that life taught me to the question “why even memorise a Bible verse?”.
Why memorise a verse?
From the work experience I’ve done with lawyers, neither barristers and solicitors memorise the whole law. On some occasions, in the mornings of or the day before court, barrister’s would refresh their memory of a certain area of law or important cases, a lot of the time solicitors would just Google the section of law they need but especially with barristers almost all of them knew sentences of legislations and judgments off by heart so when the time came, they could recite it in court. I have found that there are verses in the Bible that have been so useful to know off by heart so when those times in life come and I’m under ‘pressure’, I have anchoring truth to rely on. The ‘pressure’ I’m referring to isn’t at all like a moment in court, I’m talking about those moments where I doubt who I am, doubt why I am here, question my value, search for my purpose and feel helpless and overwhelmed.
For some of you reading this, you don’t believe the Bible is relevant let alone an ‘anchoring truth’ and to you I say, an anchor is still an anchor even if it is not attached to the boat, even if the person refuses to anchor their boat so it is not swept away by the storm. It is better to have an anchor than not and to tie your boat to the anchor before a storm hits, a sailor doesn’t leave their boat unanchored in the sea simply because ‘oh it seems alright, I doubt I’ll need it’.
Out of all the verses what would be a good one to memorise?
Growing up I was taught that you can hold God to his word and something He said because He can’t go back on His word. Many people try to hold God to things He has never said and get annoyed if He doesn’t follow through but that’s another thing entirely. Blame it on my past desire to become a lawyer and exposure to lawyers but I used to be very legalistic and cynical, sometimes I’d hear phrases Christians would say, decide to rely on them and realise God never even said that in the Bible and so I wasn’t sure what to trust.
One day, I came across Jeremiah 29:13, you’d think I’d have came across it sooner because just two verses up is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” which has to be one of the most quoted verses of the Bible. But I was so happy to discover Jeremiah 29:13 because Jeremiah 29:11 was too much for me back then, I had too many questions and had gone through so much loss and pain to even believe that, that verse could be true. I would think to myself or mutter to God in my thoughts ‘clearly what you [God] define as “prosper”,”hope and a future” is different to me because my life sucks right now.
Yet Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” felt a little more realistic and trustworthy, I mean it felt like 1+1 = 2, I seek + with all my heart = I find Him. I had witnessed other people ‘find Him’ and He seemed to have helped them in their time of need so I was willing to take the little faith I had to try. I also knew if He didn’t show up, I could have a go at Him because He said He doesn’t lie and if it turned out that He did lie then I could tell those annoying Christians to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Basically seemed like a win-win to me.
The reality is, that I found it to be true. There has not been a day when I searched for Him with all my heart and not found Him. There hasn’t been a tear I’ve cried without Him present, there hasn’t been a day that I have asked for help that He has ignored my plea (even though admittedly the ‘help’ hasn’t always been what I had expected, maybe I should be more specific in the future). I have been alone but when I invite Him in I don’t feel lonely. At first, I thought wow searching with my whole heart seems like a lot of effort on my part but I have realised that finding God isn’t like finding toilet roll in the beginning of a global pandemic. God is like a Father playing hide and seek with his child, yes He goes behind the door but He also sticks his foot out as a clue so that you can find Him.
What have I found in Him?
Well to be honest, I found Jeremiah 29:11, I found the One who has so many plans for me that I’m just like ‘why are you so obsessed with me, I think you have the wrong girl’. I have found the One that wants me to proposer even more than the loving lady who gave birth to me and I didn’t even think that was possible. I have found the One that manages to fill me with hope even when something so bad happens and I think I will never hope again. I have found the One that gives me a future even when I say to Him that ‘I’m sick of this place and humans are the worst, I just can’t stand it anymore’, yet somehow He has carried me and carries me further than I thought I could go or even wanted to go. When I feel overwhelmed and sometimes even before it gets to the point of feeling overwhelmed I remember, I search and I find and it is fair to say that I have found more than I expected, hoped or even imagined.