Not long ago someone said something that pierced me down to the very core of who I am, criticizing and devaluing what I believe and base my life on. I can’t tell you exactly what was said to protect the privacy of the one who said it, but I can tell you that it hurt me profoundly. I actually went in to a kind of depression for a couple of days.
After two or three days, I was washing the dishes and talking to God about how much this hurt. I was complaining. I was pleading. I was grieving.
And then God responded.
A verse that I had memorized at some time in the past came to the front of my thoughts:
As for you, you meant evil against me,
But God meant it for good.
I dried my hands and went to my computer to look up the verse. I found it was something Joseph said to his brothers after their father died. The brothers were afraid that Joseph would now take his revenge. In their guilty feelings, they assumed Joseph had harbored bitterness against them all these years. But Joseph had learned a few things about God over the years and he chose to see how God had worked, even through the evil planned by his brothers, instead of seeking revenge.
I read the verse again (Genesis 50:20). I thought about all that Joseph had gone through. He had been separated from his family and everything he knew as a teenager. He had been carried off captive to a foreign land where he probably didn’t speak the language and the people followed a pagan religion. He had been sold as a slave (had he been forced to stand naked before a crowd of men while they bid on him? Had he been poked and prodded like a horse at an auction?) He had been falsely accused by the wife of the man for whom he worked diligently. The false accusation had been believed and he’d been thrown into prison. In prison he did a good favor for a man about to be restored to his high position in the government and asked to be remembered, but he was forgotten for two more long years.
All of this, Joseph chose to forgive in light of how God had used it to save the people of Egypt from starvation and, more importantly, to keep His promise to Abraham that through his line blessing would come to every family.
Compared to Joseph, I had very little to complain about. I also had no proof that the situation which had upset me, would result in good, let alone something as big as saving nations. But God had spoken to me, and I chose to believe it. In believing, my spirits were lifted.
Tell your family the stories I’ve told you and ask them tonight, “Do you want to see God work in your life through verses we memorize together?”
How to Get Memorizing
I’ve been telling you over the last four weeks some of the ways memorizing verses has had an impact on my life. I could tell you other ways—how God used verses to help me know what I should do with my life, to teach me to trust him with my future, to change my prayer life, or to show me a new ministry He had for me. But I’d like to give you some suggestions about how to get you and your family memorizing verses.
- Decide to start memorizing. This might be the hardest part, realizing it is good and helpful and important. Make a firm decision.
- A verse a week is a good, doable rhythm. It might not seem like much, but if you can do 50 verses a year, you will have a repertoire of hundreds in just a few years. You can find lists on line of verses you should know or you can use the verses your kids are being assigned for Sunday school or Awana, or you can just use verses that are meaningful to you as you read scripture
- Review, review, review. This is the secret to memorizing scripture. The week you are memorizing a verse, review it every day. I recommend using 3x5 cards, one verse per card, verse on front, reference on back. Keep reviewing all your new verses until you have five you are doing every day. Then, take the verse you know best and put it in a second pile. Do the ones you are reviewing every day, plus one, two, or three verses from the second (medium frequency review pile to keep them fresh) every day. The ones you know best from the second pile can be moved a third pile (ones you are sure you know) from which you review one or two per day. By the time you have been going for several months, you will be reviewing 7-10 verses a day:
* the five most recent verses
* one to three verses from the “keep fresh” pile
* one or two from the “I know these” pile
Keep moving the verses that you have reviewed to the back of the three packs after you successfully review them, so that you go through all the verses on a regular basis. (Personally I use the app, “Scripture Typer” which tells me when to review the verses I am learning.)
If you want to get your whole family memorizing, work on it every night after dinner. Make it a game. For example, write a new verse, one word per 3x5 card and put it out on the table. Read it together several times. Then take away all the words with six letters (or whatever the longest words are) and say it again. Now take away the next longest words and say it. Keep doing this until there are no words left. Now you are saying the verse from memory!
The next night trying giving the out of order cards to one family member, maybe mom or dad! And see how long it takes you to get the verse completely right. See if anyone can do it faster. Then take away every other word and say it together. Take away every other word again and say it together. Take away all the words and try saying it.
Review the verse every night together. Go back and review previously learned verses, too, maybe not as many as you would do by yourself, but two or three previous verses as well. Invent games and give prizes. Make it fun! Maybe even have a special treat as a goal. When you have all learned 20 or 25 verses, go on some special outing as a family, maybe a water park, a zoo in another town, or even a trip to the Creation Museum.
The Psalmist said,
Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.