My work in children’s ministry has taught me so much about the kingdom of God, worship and simple faith. It’s also shown me that kids’ brains are sponges, capable of learning so quickly. I love listening to their little voices work on memory verses as they string together sentences from Scripture with relative ease. Even better are the moments when the proverbial lightbulb turns on and they “get” it, connecting the words on the page to God’s love and care for them.
I’ll be honest. I haven’t actively tried to memorize a verse in decades. During a few years in elementary school, I competed in Bible Quiz drills. A church kid to the core, I excelled in the program — earning badges for my sash and first-place trophies at traveling tournaments.
Since those days, I’ve certainly picked up a few verses. I haven’t, however, put concerted effort toward memorization. Adult life is busy and some days it’s hard enough to keep up with my everyday responsibilities. Generally speaking, I consider it a “win” when I work, pay my bills, check in with family and friends, and maintain my early morning routine that includes exercise and time with God in prayer and Bible study.
This year, I’m determined to shake things up and set goals — one of which is to memorize larger chunks of Scripture. I’ve picked one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Isaiah 55, as the starting point and downloaded an app on my phone to help me through the process. Having just started my memorization efforts, I don’t have any progress to report yet, but I’m excited to dig in, stretch my brain and grow in my knowledge of God’s Word. I even have a co-worker cheering me along!
Here are a few reasons why I chose this endeavor for 2018.
God’s Word is precious.
Unlike any other text, the Bible is written by humans under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It will remain even after heaven and earth pass away. It is timeless, for all people, cultures and generations. Isn’t that beautiful? God’s Word, like himself, is unchanging — the same yesterday, today and forever.
Through it, we learn about the character of God and gain instruction. Some Christians refer to it as a love letter or guidebook. However, I prefer the imagery of a table set before me with a simple, nourishing meal. Much like our physical need for food, we ought to read and spiritually consume God’s Word as our daily bread, necessary for life.
Let’s treasure Scripture as we would a precious jewel or pure gold. We have incredible access to the Bible, and I don’t want to take that valuable gift for granted. I believe that memorization will increase my endearment toward the Word of God.
God’s Word is living and active.
In Isaiah 55, we’re reminded that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Isn’t that the truth? I don’t know about you, but I need the Word of God to pierce through the hard, rough edges to soften my heart and refine my character. Each time I open God’s Word, I learn something new or see a new facet in a passage I’ve read before. God speaks and convicts, encourages and equips me for life and godliness.
The psalmist declares, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). During times of temptation, we can utilize the Word to fortify us, strengthen our resolve and resist the attacks of the enemy, even if we don’t have a Bible in our hands. It is the only offensive weapon listed in the armor of God. Let’s wield it, allowing the living and active Word of God to do its work in our lives.
God’s Word comforts us in our affliction.
Has God’s Word served as a balm to your soul, a remedy in the midst of a trial? On multiple occasions in 2016, I relied upon it to soothe my heart and bring healing to fears and anxiety. Faced with health issues, I understood the power of Scripture memorization like never before. I needed the comfort of God at my most vulnerable state. When I was lying in MRI and CT machines, submitting to tests and medical procedures, and sitting for hours in waiting rooms, verses replayed in my mind and brought peace.
We all face afflictions and troubles of various kinds, or will in due time (in which case, prepare yourself in advance!). The God of all comfort will come and meet you there. I want to continue to soak in His Word so I can rely upon it in the future as I’ve done in the past.
God’s Word never fails.
One of the specific reasons I chose to start my memorization journey with Isaiah 55 is because of verse 11, which reminds us that God’s Word will never return void and will accomplish its purpose. That’s a solid investment we can count on, one that will yield compound interest. Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
As an adult, I’m no longer interested in accolades for memorizing Bible verses. My brain isn’t as quick, anyway! It will certainly take me longer to learn passages than it does the kids at my church. Yet, I know I’m capable, so I’m going to pursue this goal with intention. I want truth infused deep down into my life more than anything.
In our world — a veritable mix of goodness and grief, joy and suffering, promise and pain — God’s Word is a steady foundation upon which we can stand, sure-footed, in 2018.
Have you memorized Bible verses or chapters? What did you learn through the process? Will you join me in memorizing a chapter in 2018?