Sometimes, repetition annoys me. But ... there are other times when the it's the only thing that gets me through.
After a major loss, I set the audio player to "repeat one" on the song "My Father's Love" that so gently yet confidently affirms, "No matter what happens in His grand design, I'll be fine in my Father's love." When that Strong Tower CD got stuck in the car's CD player before I could download the song onto another device, that one phrase repeated itself again and again in my head until I could buy a replacement copy.
Similarly, during one extended family crisis, the only thing that put me to sleep at night was repeating one phrase from a particular psalm over and over again to myself until I believed it enough to rest in the One who breathed it out.
Admittedly, some people repeat themselves because they think you weren't listening--even if you heard them quite clearly. Others repeat themselves because--truth be told--they weren't listening to themselves say it the first time or because they just like to hear themselves talk.
But ... there are those who speak purposefully and intentionally ... and--on purpose--repeat their message.
Check out what Peter says in the first chapter of his second epistle:
"I intend always to remind you of these qualities [faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love that effectively produce spiritual fruit], though you know them and are established in the truth that you have, I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things" (2 Peter 1:12-15).
You already know this stuff.
In fact, you're firmly established in the truth.
However, I intend ...
and I think it's right ...
and I will make every effort ...
to remind you ...
to stir you up by way of reminder ...
so that ...
you'll be able to recall these things.
Peter knew his time was short. Jesus Himself had made that clear--whether before His own ascension or by special revelation, he doesn't say--but he knew it. He knew that it would be important for these believers (for all believers) to remember these Essential Virtues: Marks of a Christ-Centered Life ... even after (especially after) he was no longer able to be with them.
- As a student, am I willing to listen to the same truths again and again? Do I get frustrated hearing preaching from a text I've studied or heard before? Or, am I thankful for the reminder? Do I realize that I need the repetition? Each of us is learning and growing, and each time we're retaught something a new connection can form because of things we've learned or experienced since the last time we heard it. The factual content may not be greater, but the personal understanding should be deeper and deeper. Perhaps that's why Paul concluded this letter with "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ...." We have to keep growing. And that takes repeated instruction.
- But let me now say, as a teacher, to us teachers: Peter didn't keep saying it the same way. Check out chapter 3:1. "This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder...." If you read 1 Peter and 2 Peter, though both of them share purpose and points, they are different letters. They are not saying the exact same words, the same way, "one more time, a little louder." As teachers, we must keep digging and growing, learning and connecting truth to the current context and audience that God has given us. Keep it fresh. Keep it relevant. Same themes, same truths--sure. Same exact outline and illustrations? Please, please--NO!
I'll close with an illustration. One day in our inner city ministry, a teen girl asked me if I'd read the whole Bible through. I answered simply, yes, I had. She seemed a bit stunned. Her expression assumed that having read the whole Book, I both remembered and knew every detail from the Book. I quickly added, but that doesn't mean I don't need to keep reading it. I need it.
And I do. I need the Word to keep filling my mind and spirit. I don't remember it all. I don't connect things I feel like I should have been able to ... unless I stay in the Word.
But the more I keep reading and re-reading, the more things piece together. Little by little, the more I own, the more I am set free from sin and free to better follow Jesus.
Jesus said it this way, "If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
There are several things that I admire my Gramma for.
- One is her perfected art of making pies. Oh, they're amazing! My favorite is when she fills her perfect crust with strawberries and rhubarb. My brother begs her blueberry every chance he gets.
- But even more: I remember as a young girl opening up her Bible on the TV stand beside the recliner. There were a bunch of little tally marks in the front fly-leaf of that well-used Book. "What are these for?," I asked. And she, very modestly replied that each little tiny mark represented her having completed her reading through the Bible from cover to cover one time. Wow!
Gramma's Bible reading tallies tell a truth: all our lives, year after year, we need the Word again and again. We need the reminders. Need.
"Lest we forget..."
I'd love to hear from you. What do you do to keep yourself reminded of truths in Scripture? What are some of those essential qualities or truths that you find yourself returning to over and over again?