I’m not that kind of learner…I’m not under the law anymore…I know how to Google what I need…Reading it is enough to bring me closer to God…I understand it, which is better than reciting it…It’s hard…

Whenever scripture memorization came up in sermons or devotions, I gave these and many more excuses for not doing it. Even though, as an actress I’d memorized entire plays, somehow a single verse and its coordinates were impossible. I didn’t see where memorization would improve my faith life, so it wasn’t worth the effort. And while the Bible calls for meditation on the word (Joshua 1:8), loving the word (Prov 6:21), and living by the word (Col 3:16), I don’t interpret those verses as commands to memorize. For forty-plus years, regular study was fine for me. Then came conviction. Don’t you hate it when that happens? You’re going along perfectly content, and then the Holy Spirit comes in and messes with you.

He reminded me I’d memorized lots of other things; plays, all the characteristics of classes in the animal kingdom, a ridiculous amount of song lyrics. Why not scripture?  He’d made his point, and I got to work.

It Isn’t Easy

Plays flow. The dialogue logically connects thoughts between speakers. Plus, if you forget a line, the lines of the other actors jog your memory. Scripture doesn’t always have a logical flow. Take this section.

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While the verses all speak about wisdom, each one contains a different concept. Instead of flowing one into another, each thought sort of abruptly changes. Sometimes a single scripture exists in its own space; there are no other lines, so to speak, to jog your memory. On top of that, there’s those pesky coordinates. They don’t connect to anything! They’re just random words and numbers at the end of the verse. Even though I’ve been memorizing four years now, the scripture address remains a struggle.

Give it Time

I try to start a new verse each week. I have consistency issues, so some seasons I’m better at this than others. However, it may take me a couple of weeks to conquer a verse. As a result, I may be working on two or three verses at any given time. Initially, I was angry at myself if I didn’t get a scripture fully down in a week. Now, I understand some take longer than others, and that’s okay.

Hand Motions

I learned this trick in children’s ministry. It works great for kindergarteners—and adults. I choose the key words or concepts from the scripture and make up hand motions to go along with them. I took one American Sign Language class in college, so sometimes I use the sign for a given word. Go to ASLU for a visual dictionary and other information about ASL. Other times, I just make up a simple movement like spreading my arms to mean “everyone.” The meaning of the movement doesn’t matter, the motion itself helps the brain. Now the mind receives input from hearing the verses spoken and the physical action of your body. Multiple sources help cement the scripture in your brain.

Pictures and Color

Using the same concept behind hand motions, I also add pictures and color to aid in difficult verses. This allows input from visual sources and auditory. I used color in the verse above from Proverbs. I’ve also drawn small pictures, symbols, and underlined words that caused me to stumble. Like in these verses:

Review, Review, Review

If I only looked at a verse the time period while I was memorizing it, I would lose it. There would be no long-term value in the process. Initially, I went through all my verses daily. But pretty quickly, they added up. Going through them like that became too time consuming. So, I divided them by topics such as anxiety, salvation, or worship and stored them in a coupon book. I go through one section a day.

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The reasons I didn’t memorize scripture were numerous, but I found it worth the effort. Next week, I’ll post about how it did improve my faith life.

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