about that scripture memorization

Sometimes I wish God would give each of us a Ouija board. We could close our eyes, rest our fingertips on the little indicator, and He’d spell it out for us.

“Am I going to be able to pay my bills this month?”
“Is dating this guy Your best for me?”
“What does it take to get to heaven?”
“I really screwed up again and feel horrible. Will You ever forgive me?”
“How am I ever going to make it through this?”

Instant discernment, that’s what I’m wanting.
Okay, so if I know if I had a God Ouija board and asked it what I really need most, I’m sure it’d say, “P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E.” Sometimes everything seems so imminent, and if I don’t get that sudden burst of wisdom or inspiration, I start to panic. “God, I have to know what to tell these people when faced with this tomorrow.” Or “There’s this deadline coming up and I don’t even know where to start and I don’t have the time to get it done.” My timing is always so much more pressing than God’s time. You’d think He’d understand that by now. But no, He’s always so laid-back and chill, up there drinking some fruity drink with an umbrella in it while I’m down here running around, yelling at Him because surely if He just knew the weight of the situation and the time-sensitive nature of it, He’d have to help me out on my time, right? Because there’s always a bill due next week and there’s always a big decision to be made tomorrow and there’s always a difficult situation I find myself stuck in and if I don’t get some serious relief from it, like, NOW, I’m going to spontaneously self-combust. Seriously. I need immediate, continuous answers or I’m not going to make it minute-by-minute, much less week-by-week or year-by-year.

So where’s our Ouija board? Okay, sure, the Bible is a much more efficient tool for discernment. Not only does it have every answer to every question in the history of the world (except, perhaps, the age-old questions I’ve struggled with since fifth grade: “Did OJ do it? What’s with the glove?” and “Was Tonya Harding really behind the hit?”), but it’s all right there, right at my fingertips. The answers I’m seeking have already been laid out time and time again.

“Am I going to be able to pay my bills this month?”
“And He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ‘No, nothing.'”

“Is dating this guy Your best for me?”
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

“What does it take to get to heaven?”
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

“I really screwed up again and feel horrible. Will You ever forgive me?”
“You who are God’s children…your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.”

“How am I ever going to make it through this?”
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

I know all this.
I really, really do.

But that takes time. You’ve got to flip to the concordance and pick out a word or a concept. You’ve got to look it up, read the notes, cross-reference the same passage in the other three gospels, flip back to Isaiah for context’s sake, and re-read the corresponding psalm that David wrote when he was going through the scripture Jesus was referencing when he explained that one parable to the disciples because they couldn’t understand it without the footnotes either. When the deadlines are looming, the bills are knocking, the complicated relationships are calling, the issues are piling up, and hearts are breaking, who has time for a crash course in seminary?


I know John 16:33.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I know Psalm 33:22.

“Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.”

I know Exodus 14:14.

“The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

I know Romans 8:38.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

I hear “memory verses” and I think Sunday school. I think felt boards with characters from Bible stories. I think coloring sheets and brightly colored tables and chairs. We’re taught to remember John 3:16 when we’re young, and we could recite it to you backward and forward but could never actually tell you what it really means to be loved by God or to make a sacrifice or to even be in need of a Savior. As a kid, I thought memorizing Bible verses was like memorizing the capitals to South American countries—I’d probably never use the information, but it’s impressive to others if I know it.

And yet, that’s it. Memorizing scripture, that’s our best tool. That’s our Godly Ouija board. That’s when we let the Word come alive in us. And the comfort I get from knowing the Word is indescribable. It comes up at the most appropriate times. When I don’t know what to think or how to feel or how to pray, there’s always a verse I can fall back on. It’s like a trampoline, a blanket, and a bear hug all rolled into one. The more verses I learn, the more I want to learn. Honestly, I wish I did have the whole Bible logged away in my head to cross-reference instantly at will. But until then, I have to trust that God will continue to lead me to the verses that will be most applicable to me—not only currently, but also in His plans for my future. And even though God doesn’t always tell me everything I want to know exactly when I want to know it, I can trust in the fact that He’s already told me everything I need to know and it’s available to me any time I need to know it.

That, to me, is pretty incredible.