During my junior year of college, my friends and I landed in a phenomenal church in downtown St. Paul. Each month, the pastor challenged the entire congregation to collectively memorize Scripture. I’d grown up in AWANA and had memorized Bible verses in hopes of earning points and helping my team win each week (great motivating factors, right?) but this was the first time I’d been struck by the need to memorize God’s Word for my own spiritual nourishment and growth. I decided to give it a try, and it ended up changing my life! Allow me to share my story briefly.
Making it Fun and Easy I knew right away if I was going to be able to succeed at this daunting task of memorizing another thing (let’s just admit it; college does not seem like an ideal time to add in more learning, however rich, meaningful and potentially powerful) I was going to have to make it fun and relatively easy. So I geared the task to fit with my own personal learning style, which is definitely VISUAL. Each month, I took the assigned verse and wrote it onto 3X5 cards, adding illustrations wherever possible. For example, I still remember memorizing Psalm 84:11 (“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor…”) and using colored pencils to draw pictures of a sun and a shield next to those words, and a large hand next to the words “the Lord bestows.” You get the idea. Even though I am far from being artistically gifted, the pictures brought the text to life and seemed to tell a story of sorts.
The next thing I did was kind of weird (though effective). I taped my “creations” to the bathroom wall. In clear view of the toilet. By my way of thinking, this was a place I sat every day, and it was essential, yet somewhat “wasted time.” (No pun intended. Sorry)! I decided to redeem my bathroom time by making it more…productive. So each time I used the bathroom, I zeroed in on the verse in front of me, taking in my visual “masterpiece” and reading through the words. Eventually the words began to take root and stick. And month by month, I was able to add another verse to my bathroom wall, and more importantly, another verse to the biblical repertoire my heart was coming to know.
Watching it Work
What made it so special is that as the words took root in my life they grew. They nourished me. They sustained me and spoke to me and shaped me and took on meaning in ways that were personal, effective and influential. For example, God ended up using Psalm 84:11, which I referred to above, to answer a super important question I had for Him. I’d been asking Him, “God, do you want me to marry the guy I’m dating? What do you have for my life? What does your will look like here?” I’d been waiting to hear an answer, not wanting to move forward until I knew God had spoken. And God eventually brought that verse back to mind as His answer. The second part of the verse says, “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” I remember knowing in my heart that God was giving me freedom to choose. It was as if He was using that verse to tell me, “I know you seek me and desire to be blameless; this relationship is a good thing, and I am not holding out on you. If this is the good thing you want, it’s yours for the taking.”
Who doesn’t want to hear God’s voice?! We all long for it! And I have found over and over again throughout my journey with Christ that He speaks the most clearly and profoundly through His Word. Which is why it is such a beautiful and vital thing that we store it up inside of us consistently through the habit of memorization so that it will be at the Spirit’s disposal whenever He chooses to use it in our lives.
Taking the Challenge
When I was first married, I switched from bathroom to shower walls, laminating verse after verse to protect them from the hot steam and water. I found that the time spent showering is a perfect time to dedicate to “the washing with water through the Word” (Eph. 5:26) as I meditate upon and memorize God’s Word. Time spent in a daily commute can also be a fantastic time to dedicate to this sacred task. Never once have I regretted one single minute I have spent on hiding God’s Word in my heart. It has reaped so much fruit in my life. I could give many examples of how God has used it!
Before you insist that you don’t have time or brain capacity for memorizing Scripture while still in college, hear me out: I felt the same way! Who in their right mind would attempt to cram in any more “content” of any kind when your plate is full with eighteen credits!? However, much like the analogy we refer to of the glass (half empty or half full), you can view memorizing in college in one of two ways: 1) my mind is already full of information OR 2) my mind is already fresh and active! If number two is correct (as I believe) then now is the perfect time to dive into the challenge of Scripture memory. You will be so thankful you took up the challenge!