I confess. I began memorizing scripture long before there was "an app for that!” In fact, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Bible concordance!
For me it began as a new believer my junior year in college, as I read my Bible, it seemed as though there verses on every page that I wanted to remember. And simply underlining them wasn’t enough. Instinctively, I began to write those verses on little cards, carry the cards in my pocket, and memorize them. Little did I know that I was practicing an age-old, Jewish tradition.
My old-fashioned practice of memorizing verses was affirmed over and again as I observed other Christians I admired who didn’t have to read verses out of the Bible when they spoke. They simple quoted them! Our Campus Missionary Intern at SFA taught us the Bridge Illustration, quoting each of the verses by memory. As she did so I remember how differently those verses sounded as she shared them from her heart. That day I made a commitment to the Lord to memorize scripture for the rest of my life.
I was totally content just to have those verses in my heart, but the surprise was how often I had the opportunity to share them with others. I hadn’t anticipated that blessing. My friend and mentor, Max Barnett, said, “I wouldn’t trade the verses I memorized in college for six million dollars.” How long since you had something you wouldn’t trade for six million dollars?
In our training for BSM Campus Missionary Interns we ask them to come to orientation with 15 verses down pat, with the hope that they'll continue the discipline... for the rest of their lives. A few doddle with the assignment, but oh, some really get hooked! And those who do enlist their students to do the same. Some have their leadership teams memorize entire chapters, and some memorize complete books of the Bible! We all agree that this could digress to a legalistic exercise and become a source of pride, but when we do it "as unto the Lord" He uses those verses to do surgery on our hearts and continually makes them new. I think it's worth the risk.
Robert Hooker is Evangelism Consultant for Texas BSM.