Last Thursday my great uncle, my dad’s uncle, my grandma’s brother, Martin has passed away. He was 82.
As he always lived quite a ways from us, I only really remember meeting him once. I’m sure I met him other times, but there’s this one time at my grandparents house that has stuck with me over the years. I don’t remember how long ago it was or why we were all together or what the deal was, but I do remember that Great Uncle Martin was relaxing in my grandpa Pap’s recliner when a conversation about spiritual things came up. I wish I could recall what the conversation was about, but, as you can guess, I don’t. Anyways, Martin had been quiet during everyone else’s conversation and then all of a sudden sat up and said,
Well, Psalm 19 says that the heavens declare the glory of God.
That verse has been engraved on my mind since! I think I was most impressed that this elderly relative was simply able to recall Scripture like that, and it was only one verse. He didn’t quote the entire psalter, or even a string of verses–nope, just Psalm 19:1. Psalm 19:1a even.
Though Gone His Impact Remains
Last Thursday Great Uncle Martin left this world to behold the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. He now witnesses the glory of God being declared ever so more instensely than our observable heavens are able.
He never knew that he that day caused me too to memorize Psalm 19:1. Psalm 19:1a. Oh, let us commit the Scriptures to memory so that even in seemingly idle moments of repose we recall with ease the treasures that are to be found in God’s holy word! Let our speech be seasoned with grace, encouraging one another in the Lord. You never the impact it will have.
I’m grateful that our pastor is so intent on instilling a love for God’s word in the hearts of his congregants. (See his gem of a booklet An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture). He and the elders are encouraging the church to memorize the book of Philippians by Easter Sunday with the help of the project Partnering to Remember. As I memorized verse three today (“I thank my God every time I remember you”) the recent passing of Great Uncle Martin came to mind. I thank God for him, and I only remember meeting him once. Still that meeting left a lasting impression on my little boy brain such that years later I remember him and thank God for the way he used Great Uncle Martin to plant within me a love for Scripture.
I want to be the sort of person whom people are led to thank God for every time they remember, don’t you? I think memorizing Scripture is a great plays to start in order to leave that legacy.
It’s little events like this one with Great Uncle Martin sprinkled throughout life that shape us into who we are by God’s grace. Now that Emily and I have joined Wycliffe Bible Translators to serve as missionaries bringing God’s word to people in their own language for the first time, I have to stop and reflect on the many events that have given me a love for God’s word. I sent Martin our November Wycliffe newsletter to share with him what we’re getting ourselves into. Even so, I don’t think he knew the impact his knowing that one little half-verse of Scripture had on me. Soli deo gloria!