Summary: 4th of 5 in the series "A Light Unto My Path: Growing Through God’s Word." Considers how God’s Word strengthens us as we memorize and meditate upon it.
Proverbs 22: 17 Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise;
apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
and have all of them ready on your lips.
Captain James E. Ray of the U.S. Air Force learned just how important those old, familiar words of Scripture were when he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" and other camps. In his memoir, The Secret of Our Survival: A Former Vietnam POW’s Story of Faith, Captain Ray recounts a clandestine conversation he had with the prisoner in the next cell, who one day asked:
"Do you know any Bible verses?"
"Well, the Lord’s Prayer," I answered.
"Everyone knows that. How about the twenty-third Psalm?"
"Only a little."
I began whispering it. He’d repeat each line after me. A little later he whispered the entire Psalm back to me…Other prisoners joined in, sharing verses they knew. Through these contacts a fellowship grew among us. I didn’t feel so alone any more…[O]ur common denominators were the Bible and Jesus Christ, and we were able to share and write down a great deal of Scripture. For by now it had become vital to our daily existence. Often racked with dysentery, weakened by the diet of rice and thin cabbage and pumpkin soup, our physical bodies had shrunk within the prison walls. We spent 20 hours a day locked in our cells. And those Bible verses became rays of light, constant assurances of His Love and care.
Since the guards forbade communication between prisoners, they found creative ways of sharing these verses with each other:
[T]he urge to share these verses with others developed inventiveness. One night I lay with my ear pressed against the rough wooden wall of my cell to hear Thump...thumpety thump as somewhere on the wall, cells away, a fellow POW tapped out in Morse code: "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" (Psalm 121:1). He tapped out his name-Russ Temperly-and passed on the seven other verses in that Psalm, which I scratched on the concrete floor with a piece of broken tile. "My help cometh from the Lord," the Psalm assured us, and with that assurance came His Presence, soothing us, telling us to fear not…From that we learned a most important lesson. Bible verses on paper aren’t one iota as useful as Scripture burned into your mind and heart where you can draw on them for guidance and comfort.
By the end of several months, Captain Ray and his fellow prisoners were able to "memorize collectively the Sermon on the Mount, Romans 12, First Corinthians 13, and many of the Psalms. Now we had our own ’living Bible,’ walking around the room."
Today we consider ways of Making the Bible a part of you. Memorization and Meditation. Now Memorization is something we hear about although it’s often relegated to the primary age Sunday school class. Even That can be a blessing
Meditation is a concept almost forgotten in the church today:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer when asked why do you meditate replied “Because I am a Christian.”