9 But how can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 Bravely, I will seek you with all my heart;
Build a barricade–do not let me stray from your commands.
11 Buried in my heart you’ll find your word
barring my actions, keeping me from sinning against you.
The Psalmist wrote Psalm 119 as an acrostic. Each stanza has been assigned a Hebrew letter, and each line of that stanza begins with that letter. I’ve always wanted to paraphrase this chapter using that method, but it’s time consuming and not needed to help someone understand the importance of God’s word.
But today, I took the time to add a few words and rearrange these three verses to fit in with their assigned letter: Beth.
No one shared these verses with me when I hit my teen years. In fact I’ve never used them to minister to young people, though I’ve read them more than twenty-five times. But today verse nine struck me. How might my formative years been different if I’d been shown the importance of putting scripture into my life everyday?
I was a “good” kid. I went to church every Sunday, didn’t break the rules, and didn’t like messes. My winter days were filled with getting good grades, and my Summer days found me working in the garden or taking walks alone in the woods with a notebook. I loved going to youth group. The pastor there during my Freshman year did more for my spiritual growth than the next four or five I encountered. But the denomination moved him before my Sophomore year, and I’m not sure the one who followed had ever met Jesus Christ. Without the accountability Pastor Rod provided, the enemy manipulated my weak spot.
When Pastor Rod had been there, he’d encouraged us to be in the scripture. During Lent my Freshman year, we dove into Matthew 6:33 and each morning we got up at 6:33 to read God’s Word. Then, once a week, we met at 6:33 am to have a short study before we went to school. When that encouragement left, I seldom read the Bible, and I started noticing boys.
The next Summer, I lost my spiritual rock. Grandma was a prayer warrior. Three time during my sixteen years, they’d sent her home to die. Her presence in my life kept me on the road to purity. I never wanted to let her down. But in August, exactly one month before her fifty-eighth birthday, the Lupus finally took her.
I hadn’t yet developed the habit of hiding God’s word in my heart, and now the two people who showed me Christ were gone. How indeed can a young person stay on the path to purity when the enemy pulls so hard and the things that kept her rooted are ripped away?
Fortunately, Grandma’s prayers protected me from becoming wanton, but when I stumbled on to the boy I’d end up being with forever, I didn’t have the strength or the grounding to remain pure. Would my life have been different had I been rooted in scripture? I’ll never know for sure, but I have a feeling it would have made waiting easier. And while God blessed me with the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen in your life, had I waited and brought her into the world just a few years later, we may not have struggled financially like we did. I may have been able to give her more and be there for her if I’d been more mature.
I believe the prayers of my grandmother still provide blessings for my family. However, I also see the extra blessings I now receive because I’m obedient, not straying from His commands. When I hide His word in my heart and seek Him with all my being, He pours out His Spirit, and I begin to understand what Jesus meant when He said life abundant.
If you haven’t found the joy of being in God’s word daily, I encourage you to download the YouVersion Bible app and have them send you the verse of the day. Meditate on it, enjoy your Creator’s message to you. Then find a reading plan and follow it. I prefer to get my paper Bible out and check off the online readings, but you can do it all on your device. Whatever you need to do to get the Word of God firmly embedded in your heart–do it! It will be the greatest gift you give yourself and your family. And if you’re young, you’ll have a headstart on all the others around you.
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