Remember the children’s game, “hide and seek”? Some of our grandkids still play it. What a simple game: One person closes his or her eyes, counts to 10, 20 – or 100 – while the others conceal themselves somewhere in the yard or the house. Younger ones get easily frustrated seeking to find the “hiders,” so after a few minutes it’s kind to let them “find” you.
While I haven’t played the hide and seek game in a long while, for a long time I’ve been playing a kind of spiritual hide-and-seek that has proved to be important to God’s growth process for me.
In the early ‘80s I participated in a discipling group using material by The Navigators. A requirement of the three-year program was to memorize the 60 verses in the Navs’ Topical Memory System, along with a set of five verses called “Beginning With Christ.” Learning 65 verses, including title and “address,” seemed daunting but spread out over many months it wasn’t too bad. Especially for goal-oriented people like me.
It wasn’t the task itself that mattered, but the forming of a spiritual “filing system” in my mind for accessing Bible passages that applied to everyday circumstances. Followers of Jesus are instructed to actively and earnestly seek Him. In Isaiah 55:6 we read, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Jesus later said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). While this can apply to any specific needs, there’s no greater need than a deepening relationship with the Lord.
One effective way to do this is by “hiding” the Word of God in our hearts. Many centuries ago, King David wrote, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9,11).
The apostle Paul, writing to his protégé, Timothy, also affirmed the importance of knowing – and applying – biblical truth in everyday life: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
I sometimes hear people respond defensively, “Oh, I’m terrible at memorizing. I could never memorize Scripture.” Really? What’s your phone number? What about your spouse, or teenage son or daughter? Your Social Security number? Your home address? Or when your favorite TV shows are on?
Can you recite the Pledge of Allegiance or the Lord’s Prayer, or sing all the words to the Star-Spangled Banner, or your favorite pop song? How many passwords have you stored in your memory bank?
Granted, some people find memorizing things easier than others, but we can usually commit to memory anything that’s really important to us.
The point isn’t that we can brag about how many Bible verses we know. It’s about being able to retrieve God’s Word whenever we need it, even if a Bible isn’t readily available. Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, placed high emphasis on Scripture memorization and made it an integral part of discipling others. His work often took him to remote places around the world, and he found much comfort and assurance by being able to call to mind meaningful passages applicable for the need of the hour when a Bible wasn’t handy.
Today, faced with a daily barrage of negative communication, it’s helpful to pay heed to passages like Philippians 4:8, which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Nothing better fits those descriptions than the timely, always reliable Word of God. If you’re seeking the Lord, try hiding – His Word in your heart.