“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance to you, and give you peace.”
My fleeting form was no deterrent. Nor would her voice lower for a passerby. My mother, Sheryl Walker, was on a mission and has been my whole life.
Whether making dinner for her family, routing her rambunctious children through a theme park, wrangling my wonderfully incorrigible father or instilling good values, she has reached Ethan Hunt heights.
One early mission was to encourage my brothers and I to learn Bible verses. We had a passionate teacher. Scripture was written upon my mother’s heart and she strived valiantly to engage us.
Except, there were so many words.
(To prove my point, I Googled “How many words in the King James Bible.”
Let me tell you, Readers, there are quite a few words. A total of 783,137 to be exact.)
Too many words to recall when there were new episodes of “Sister, Sister,” to watch, Pokemon games to play and books to read. What can I say? My time was in demand.
So I never became a Scripture savant.
Except, I did manage to learn Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”
Listen, if you were a hypochondriac and germaphobe, you would have learned those verses, as well.
Fear motivated me to learn two verses, but any additional seemed too hard. Memorizing verses didn’t appeal to me the way reading books, playing sports or chatting with friends did.
This mindset might have continued if I hadn’t stumbled upon Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shoop.” I first heard a portion of the song during a clip of Ellen Degeneres’ “Here & Now” tour.
Ellen tried to explain to her crowd the power of music.
“... Because usually it tells a story we can relate to and for me, mine is Salt and Pepa’s ‘Shoop.’”
The crowd laughed appreciatively before Ellen unapologetically recited the opening part as if she were shooting the breeze in someone’s porch rocker.
She had me rolling.
Interested in what the original song must have sounded like, I looked up “Shoop” on YouTube. Before long it was my mission to memorize the entire song.
My friends, bless their souls, had to listen to me spout the lyrics for months.
“You’re packed and you’re stacked ’specially in the back/Brother, wanna thank your mother for a butt like that....”
And of course, “Straight up, wait up, hold up, Mr. Lover/Like Prince said you’re a sexy —”
I know, real gems. And yes, I still know all of the words.
“Shoop,” set me off on a mission to find other rap/hip-hop/R&B songs I could spout the lyrics off to.
There was a certain delight in knowing the words and timing to the fast-paced raps.
Arguments could be made anything from the Gettysburg Address to a Shel Silverstein poem would have better replaced lines like, “And he ill, he real, he might got a deal/He pop bottles and he got the right kind of bill/He cold, he dope, he might sell coke/He always in the air, but he never fly coach.”
However, for the purpose of this column, the content of the raps are neither here nor there. What I am wanting to tell you is plainly this: learning raps soon grew in me a love of memorizing and a desire to commit to memory something worthwhile.
My parents planted the seed of God’s love and Scripture in my heart at a young age. It had remained with me along with an on-again, off-again relationship with my Bible. I finally decided it was time to commit some of the Bible’s overflowing wisdom and truth to memory.
Before long, I had 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 floating through my brain.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal ...”
This accomplishment led me to Romans 12:1-8.
“... We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance to your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach ...”
Random verses fill my head and I find it is just as thrilling to recite the words as it is to sing along to raps. Lately, it has crossed my mind to memorize a fun poem or two. Who knows when the whimsical words will be needed to settle a group of rambunctious children?
I’ve actually broadened my interest in the music department, as well. Recently, I was listening to Air1 when I heard Lecrae’s “Boasting.”
“So in times that are good, in times that are bad/For any times that I’ve had at all I will be glad./And I will boast in the cross. I’ll boast in my pains. I will boast in the sunshine, boast in his reign.”
Who would have thought my younger self — too busy running to the bus, watching TV and chatting with friends — would have actually sat down to memorize Scripture?
Better question: Who would have thought I would enjoy myself?
Best question: Who knew raps would connect my love for God with Scripture?
It turns out you never quite know where life will lead you or how your actions will affect yourself and others.
Life’s a mystery, haven’t you heard?
Enjoy the ride, Readers, turn up the radio and think on those things which are good and true.