Have you ever noticed that the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” is actually pretty true. In developmental psychology this is called object permanence. If you show an infant (0-8 months) a toy and then cover the toy with a blanket the infant will not be able to comprehend that the toy still exists. As far as the infant is concerned the toy has ceased to exist. We fully develop a sense of object permanence by the time we’re one year old and can solve problems in relation to object permanence by the time we’re two. I’m not sure if knowing that makes me feel better or worse when I go to retrieve something from my basement and swear that the house has eaten it after 10 minutes of searching.
While people develop the full idea of object permanence by the time they’re two, we do tend to forget things when they are out of our line of sight for an extended period of time. Someone who has lost a loved one will often comment, after an extended period of time, that they can’t remember the sound of the loved one’s voice or even what that person looked like without a visual aid (like a picture). Of course there are more mundane examples as well. If you haven’t used a tool in a year, it can often take you a moment to either find it or remember how to use it.
The same applies to God’s Word. When we are not using it on a regular basis we tend to forget about it. When we forget about it, it stops affecting our daily lives…and that is the point of the Bible in the first place. God wants a voice in how and why we live our lives. He wants to direct who we are and who we are becoming. But when the Bible sits on a shelf or lies untouched on a bedside table, it cannot be that voice in our lives.
That is why Moses commands Israel to write the law on two large stones after they cross the Jordan river in chapter 27. To keep the Word of God in plain sight. Think for a moment how may Bible verses you have memorized (don’t feel badly if there aren’t many, you won’t be alone in that regard). A few of them I’m sure you will have memorized for Sunday School or a Bible study, or because it is a favourite verse. But there will be a few that you know because they were on the wall at a home you frequented over the years. Perhaps hanging in a picture frame, perhaps cross-stitched by an aunt or grandmother, perhaps on a poster in your room growing up, perhaps embroidered on a throw pillow. Because you saw that verse on a regular basis it stuck in your mind.
It’s very simple really. The same thing happens when you read the Bible in a dedicated and consistent manner. It will stick in your head.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Deuteronomy 28-29