For those of you who were ever apart of Awana, you remember Awana Bucks well. For those of you who were not, first of all I pity you, and second of all, Awana Bucks were pieces of paper “money” that each kid like me could earn through things like good behavior, winning at games, and most importantly: memorizing Bible verses.
Each week we’d receive Awana Bucks for verses memorized and sometimes there would even be some big challenge over the course of a few weeks or months that could result in a kid’s version of winning the Awana lottery. These bucks were then exchanged for things like candy, candy, and especially candy. They might have had other prizes to buy, but why would an eight year old boy buy anything but candy when given the chance?
Ever since Awana (which by the way, I totally loved as a kid and have nothing but great things to say about) the whole idea of memorizing Bible verses has been something I’ve been aware of and in support of. But I found myself always approaching memorization like some kind of spiritual chore. I’d memorize by reading verses over and over again, or compiling a stack of flash cards, or closing my eyes and repeating phrases over and over again, or some combination of all three.
I remember learning about young Jewish boys during Jesus’ time who would go to school and work towards memorizing the entire Torah (first five books of the Bible), which I was amazed by! They must have spent so much time studying and devoting their minds and eyes and ears to the Bible until they had the whole thing committed to memory. I can’t even remember a shopping list that’s more than two items long!
Last night I was reading my daughter a book, “The Good Humor Man” for probably about the 50th time (seriously). It’s a fun little story that looks like it was first published in the 80’s about the jolly ice cream man selling Good Humor goodies from his little white Good Humor Truck (product placement, much?) that he drives around giving out delicious frozen treats to all the kids, parents, grandma’s, and dogs of a small town, followed by his return to Fun Valley (where ice cream is made and the little white trucks live…duh).
Eve has probably heard this book well over 100 times. And last night as I was reading (and she cycled between walking around her room, climbing on me, and sitting next to me to see the pictures), I noticed something amazing. She had most of the book totally memorized! There were whole sections and pages where she would be saying the same words that I was reading, right along with me.
It was pretty impressive. My two year old daughter, who can’t tie a shoe or understand the difference between “please don’t throw your macaroni” and “please rain pasta all over the kitchen” had memorized something!
As I said goodnight and left her room that night, it just struck me that maybe the true nature of memorizing the Bible isn’t necessarily sitting down and go through a bunch of difficult tactics in order to commit it to memory (although I believe that has it’s place). Maybe memorizing the Bible is much more about just experiencing it so much that we can’t help but have it implanted into our brains.
Ever hear a song so much that you all of a sudden realize you can sing along with it, without ever having sat down to read the lyrics or print them out on flash cards? For those of you, like me, who have seen Frozen a thousand times and listened to the soundtrack when the movie isn’t playing, you get what it’s like to be singing along with something word-for-word that you didn’t even know you knew. It was just the process of hearing something so much that your brain naturally absorbed it.
When it comes to the Bible, the verses I can recite from memory are those which I’ve just naturally read or talked about a lot. No flash cards, no clenched eyes while I loudly repeat them until I can remember them and their chapter/verse reference. Just the natural absorbtion into my memory based on frequent use. Eva memorized her book simply because it was a natural, daily part of her life.
And I could be wrong, but I think that might be the way God wants us to remember His Word.
Maybe the discipline of memorizing Scripture is less about the effort it could take, and more about knowing God. Just like knowing the phone number of our spouse by heart or knowing all the lyrics to “Let it Go” because you have a 2 year old daughter…okay fine, I’ll admit I like the movie too! You happy?!