I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down to open up his or her book. Today, I’m excited to interview Glenna Marshall about her new book, Memorizing Scripture: The Basics, Blessings, and Benefits of Meditating on God’s Word. Memorizing Scripture is something I always want to do more of, but I find it so difficult to keep it a regular habit. I’m looking forward to reading this book and learning from Glenna’s wisdom and insights!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a pastor’s wife and mom of two boys. My husband, William, and I have been married for twenty years, and eighteen of those years have been spent in Sikeston, Missouri where he has faithfully served as a pastor. We welcomed our two sons to our family through adoption after years of infertility. With a large age gap between them, we are navigating both the little years (for the second time around) and driving lessons! I am thankful to get to work from home most of the time. I work remotely for Practical Shepherding, a ministry to pastors and their families, but I also spend many hours at my dining room table writing each week—articles, book manuscripts, blog posts, etc. I travel about once a month to speak at women’s conferences and retreats, but I so appreciate the gift of being at home the rest of the month which allows me to be present for my family and to be fully involved in my local church.
In the last twelve years, I have suffered much from numerous autoimmune diseases, so my writing is often colored by my experience with chronic physical pain. I’ve recently gone into remission with my diseases, which feels like a miracle. I am rejoicing in the gift of full nights of sleep without pain for the first time in years. I can’t help but thank the Lord, however, for the way He has faithfully carried me through long seasons of constant pain. If (or rather, when) the pain returns, as often happens with systemic diseases, I know He will sustain me then.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
I’ve kept a journal since I was about seven years old! I’m forty-two now, so the stack of journals I’ve accumulated over the years is considerable. When I was in college, I changed my major several times, unable to land on what I really wanted to do with my life. One night, while journaling about my uncertainties, it struck me that I should do the thing I loved the most: write. I changed my major (again) to English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and never looked back. I blogged anonymously during the early two-thousands when blogging was still relatively new, writing primarily about infertility and adoption. After my younger son was born, I went public with my writing and shifted my focus because I saw blogging as a way to serve others with my words. My first book was born out of that first year of public blogging.
While Scripture meditation deepens your love for God, it also dilutes your love for the things of this world.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
Personally, I have found writing to be much more challenging since the advent of the smartphone and social media. I find it difficult these days to reserve any mental white space for simply thinking and processing, which we all know is necessary for writing. Because incessant scrolling seems to dilute my attention span and squelch my creativity, I often need to step back and reexamine my social media habits for the sake of my mind and my craft.
Like every other writer, I have occasional writer’s block and seasons when I don’t feel like I have anything original to say. For writer’s block, I find the best solution is to push through and write, even if it’s rubbish. The ritual of writing something—anything—usually helps to grease the wheels a bit. For the times when I feel drained of creativity, I take that as a signal to read more for enjoyment (especially fiction) and to write more for internal processing (journaling).
What led you to write Memorizing Scripture?
Anger. Honestly! A few years ago, I was struggling mightily with the sin of anger, and no matter how much I read my Bible or prayed about it, I could not find any victory. Anger seemed to be constantly bubbling under the surface. One day, I was again pleading for the Lord to help me put this sin to death when He brought to mind Psalm 119:11, which was one of the first verses I memorized as a child. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Could it really be so easy? I thought. I had nothing to lose, so I began memorizing some verses, then passages, and then finally the whole book of James, followed by Colossians and, most recently, 1 Peter. The practice of meditating on God’s Word, mumbling it aloud to myself day after day changed my life. I began to the sin of anger growing smaller and less powerful, but the benefits of memorization went wider and deeper than just that.
I could not stop talking about the blessings of memorizing Scripture, so I wrote a book to tell others how to do it, to convince them that they can, and to show how wonderfully transformative the simple practice of meditating on God’s Word can be.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
Scripture memorization isn’t something we do so that we can stand up and recite for people. It’s all about the process of rolling the phrases of God’s Word over and over in your mouth, in your heart, and in your mind. Not only did God design your brain to memorize, but He will also renew your mind and change your life when you begin storing up His Word like the treasure it is.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
I couldn’t write a book on memorizing Scripture if I hadn’t already adopted the practice, but even I hadn’t written the book, memorization is a spiritual discipline I am sold on for life! I am regularly amazed at the way whatever I’m memorizing at the time speaks to my life circumstances. What you store in your heart will inevitable flow from your mouth, and I’ve found that to be true with God’s Word. It’s an often overlooked discipline that I avoided for decades, but I will never stray from it again for the way it has deepened my love for the Lord and changed the way I think.
We won’t acquire a Scripture-shaped life without the ongoing, transformative work that God does over time with His Word.
For a sneak peek, here are some quotes:
“The more you give your mind to the Word, the more easily you will walk away from the fleeting, soul-numbing pleasures of this world.”
“Scripture-infused thinking will lead to Christ-centered living. Give God your mind and watch Him change your life.”
Here’s what others are saying:
“There are few disciplines Christians want to do more but actually do less than memorizing Scripture. Glenna’s book is designed to help. It will motivate you to rediscover this important habit, instruct you on why it will benefit your life and faith, convince you it will foster your joy in the Lord, and help you build and maintain the practice. As we and so many other parents taught our children, it will help you to put the best thing (God’s Word) in the best place (your heart) for the best reason (so you might not sin against Him).”
—Tim Challies, Author of Seasons of Sorrow
“Memorizing Scripture will be a resource I reach for and recommend often! It compelled me to know and love God through His Word, while equipping me with helpful tools to hide Scripture in my heart. Glenna Marshall offers us the principles with the practicals, exhortation with encouragement, and the truth with all the grace.”
—Hunter Beless, Founder of Journeywomen and author of Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving the Bible
“Muscle memory is an essential operation in our physicality. A thousand memorized micro-actions in exercise, cooking, texting, and driving help us flourish in everyday life. Memorizing Scripture by Glenna Marshall reminds us how vital Scripture memory is for our spirituality. You will enjoy this personal, inviting, practical, and invigorating work from Glenna. I trust it will encourage you to treasure Scripture as it did for me.”
—Jeff Medders, Author of Humble Calvinism
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
You can often find me in the blue chair by the window at my small town’s local coffee shop reading a book, writing, or chatting with a friend from church.
Glenna Marshall is a pastor’s wife and mother of two energetic sons. She is the author of The Promise is His Presence, Everyday Faithfulness, and Memorizing Scripture. She writes regularly at GlennaMarshall.com on biblical literacy, suffering, and the faithfulness of God. She is a member of Grace Bible Fellowship in Sikeston, Missouri.