My first memory of reciting something by heart was from the Bible, Psalms 23. I still remember it today and have said it a number of times when I am sad or scared. It really does give me peace.
I can’t recall the exact age I was, but I know I was in elementary school. My Sunday school class was having a competition for a red Bible. I so wanted that red Bible to be mine. I didn’t have one. All I had to do was memorize this paragraph of words. It seemed simple enough. So I read those lines over and over and over. I promised myself I would win that Bible.
That promise came true; I won the Bible. It’s falling apart and covered in colorful highlighter marks, puffy stickers and doodles. I look at it know and think, I hope God didn’t think it was disrespectful that I pretty much colored all over his word. But, I have to think it’s OK since I did it with a child’s heart and love. Knowing I won that Bible meant the world to me. It was my Bible and no one could take it from me. My parents could not get upset if I marked notes all over it because it was mine.
At that time, winning the Bible was my goal. I have to assume my Sunday school teacher’s goal was to get us excited about God’s word. Well, she achieved her goal as well. I can’t tell you how many pages have notes, how many times I read through it, and how many times I have said that Psalm. In some of my darkest days, I recited it with tears in my eyes and pain in my heart. It didn’t make my problems go away, but it did give me peace. I even recall pouring over the words in my head a few times on deployments when I felt particular vulnerable. The words, “Though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil…” just seemed to put a force field around me and gave me faith that I would survive.
Now some 30 some years later, that tattered old marked-up Bible sits on my shelf, but the memorized words will remain in my heart forever.
In response to the Daily Prompt ~ By Heart.
The cross art came from wallpaper4god.com.