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  • This entry is part 33 of 40 in the series Devotionals.

Do Scriptures And Hymns Seem Boring To You?

By Pilgrim · Apr 14, 2018 · Updated Jul 8, 2018 ·
  1. Devotionals
    Do Scriptures And Hymns Seem Boring To You?

    Shot Down

    Over Vietnam

    Howard Elmer "Howie" Rutledge was shot down over Vietnam on November 28, 1965. He had previously flown over 200 missions during the Korean War and another 75 missions during his service in Vietnam. On that fateful day, Commander Howie Rutledge piloted an F-8E Crusader sent on a combat mission over North Vietnam as a part of Operation Rolling Thunder. After his plane was shot down, he parachuted into a little village where he was immediately attacked, stripped naked, and imprisoned.

    Seven Years As A Prisoner Of War

    During the next seven years as a prisoner of war Howie endured brutal treatment. His survived on little more than a daily bowl of rotting soup that contained a glob of pig fat—skin, hair, and all. Around him scurried rats the size of cats and spiders as big as fists. Conditions were frequently cold, and he was regularly alone, and tortured. He was sometimes shackled in excruciating positions and left for days in his own waste with carnivorous insects boring through his oozing sores. How could he maintain his sanity?

    The Importance Of Scripture Memory

    In his book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Rutledge shares with readers a powerful testimony regarding the importance of Scripture memory. Here are some excerpts from his book:

    "Now the sights and sounds and smells of death were all around me. My hunger for spiritual food soon outdid my hunger for a steak. Now I wanted to know about that part of me that will never die. Now I wanted to talk about God and Christ and the church. But in Heartbreak solitary confinement there was no pastor, no Sunday-school teacher, no Bible, no hymnbook, no community of believers to guide and sustain me. I had completely neglected the spiritual dimension of my life. It took prison to show me how empty life is without God, and so I had to go back in my memory to those Sunday-school days in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If I couldn't have a Bible and hymnbook, I would try to rebuild them in my mind."​

    Desperately Seeking God's Word

    He also wrote:

    "I tried desperately to recall snatches of Scripture, sermons, gospel choruses from childhood, and hymns we sang in church. The first three dozen songs were relatively easy. Every day I'd try to recall another verse or a new song. One night there was a huge thunderstorm—it was the season of the monsoon rains—and a bolt of lightning knocked out the lights and plunged the entire prison into darkness. I had been going over hymn tunes in my mind and stopped to lie down and sleep when the rains began to fall. The darkened prison echoed with wave after wave of water. Suddenly, I was humming my thirty-seventh song, one I had entirely forgotten since childhood:​

    Showers of blessings,
    Showers of blessings we need!
    Mercy drops round us are falling,
    But for the showers we plead..."​

    Rediscovering Faith By Recalling Memorized Scriptures

    Rutledge recalled:

    "I no sooner had recalled those words than another song popped into my mind, the theme song of a radio program my mother listened to when I was just a kid.​

    Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine
    Flooding my soul with glory divine.
    Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine,
    Hallelujah! Jesus is mine!​

    Most of my fellow prisoners were struggling like me to rediscover faith, to reconstruct workable value systems. Harry Jenkins lived in a cell nearby during much of my captivity. Often we would use those priceless seconds of communication in a day to help one another recall Scripture verses and stories."​

    Ruth And Naomi

    "One day I heard him whistle. When the cell block was clear, I waited for his communication, thinking it to be some important news. 'I got a new one,' he said. 'I don't know where it comes from or why I remember it, but it's a story about Ruth and Naomi.' He then went on to tell that ancient story of Ruth following Naomi into a hostile new land and finding God's presence and protection there. Harry's urgent news was 2,000 years old. It may not seem important to prison life, but we lived off that story for days, rebuilding it, thinking about what it meant, and applying God's ancient words to our predicament."​

    The Lord's Prayer, The Twenty-third Psalm, et. al.

    "Everyone knew the Lord's Prayer and the Twenty-third Psalm, but the camp favorite verse that everyone recalled first and quoted most often is found in the Gospel of John, third chapter, sixteenth verse.… With Harry's help, I even reconstructed the seventeenth and eighteenth verses."​

    "How I struggled to recall those Scriptures and hymns! I had spent my first eighteen years in a Southern Baptist Sunday school, and I was amazed at how much I could recall. Regrettably, I had not seen then the importance of memorizing verses from the Bible, or learning gospel songs. Now, when I needed them, it was too late. I never dreamed that I would spend almost seven years (five of them in solitary confinement) in a prison in North Vietnam or that thinking about one memorized verse could have made the whole day bearable.
    Thy Word Have I Hid In My Heart

    "One portion of a verse I did remember was, 'Thy word have I hid in my heart.' How often I wished I had really worked to hide God's Word in my heart. I put my mind to work. Every day I planned to accomplish certain tasks. I woke early, did my physical exercises, cleaned up as best I could, then began a period of devotional prayer and meditation. I would pray, hum hymns silently, quote Scripture, and think about what the verse meant to me."​

    "Remember, we weren't playing games. The enemy knew that the best way to break a man's resistance was to crush his spirit in a lonely cell. In other words, some of our POWs after solitary confinement lay down in a fetal position and died. All this talk of Scripture and hymns may seem boring to some, but it was the way we conquered our enemy and overcame the power of death around us."
    Never Neglect The Spiritual Dimension Of Your Life

    About Author

    Experiencing the God of Joy: By centering our lives around Christ, we can experience true joy. "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." —Philippians 1:21
    Healing with Jesus likes this.


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  • This entry is part 33 of 40 in the series Devotionals.