He was asked what his favorite Bible verse is and immediately he responded:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The follow up question was, “Why?”
He responded, “Because I sometimes I am afraid, and the verse reminds me Jesus is with me. It helps me remember when I’m afraid, there are things I can do. I can pray, I can take deep breaths, I can think about what I know is true.”
I don’t make my kids memorize Bible verses. We get them each week at church and discuss what they are learning, and while they may remember the essentials of these passages, and while I believe scripture memorization is really valuable, it is not something I force. I hear all the time the importance of “hiding the word in their hearts” so when they grow up it will all be right there. Something about forcing them to memorize words, when getting the words right may distract them from getting to the heart of what is being spoken, keeps me from enforcing this unspoken rule among Christian parents.
I’d rather talk about the scriptures when they apply most because kids learn as they go, and when the words of God are emblazoned in their souls along with something or someone they can feel, see, or hear, it goes a long way. I want them to know the word of God is really living and active, so this means talking through how it comes alive in the context of their lives, so they see God and His word are treasures worth understanding.
Rather than working the words into their brains first, we talk a lot about what it means for our hearts. We talk about what God says when we are sad. What He says about sharing and giving. When something is bothering them at school, or when they notice something that is not right with the world, like the homeless people wandering the street. We talk about how Jesus was technically homeless and said things like, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” We think through what we can do to help, because Jesus taught, people who feed the hungry or welcome the stranger inherit the Kingdom. When they don’t understand why the boy who is just like them who we have grown to love goes from one foster home to the next longing to be with his mom, we try to understand the God who promises to receive him.
Joshua 1:9 is a verse we picked as a “life verse” for our oldest because we want him to grow to be strong and courageous. When the second and third came, we prayed and the same verse kept coming to mind because in this world, with what they have ahead of them, strength and courage will always be required. The same is true for our fourth boy.
The words now hang on the wall of their room, right by the doorway of their room to remind them before they go out every day and when they come in to close their little eyes at night.
If this is the only one they have memorized for a while, it’s okay with me. If they grow up believing with their whole hearts the LORD of Heaven and Earth is always with them, will never leave them and will always be the source of their strength and courage, I’m good with that. Because if this is what they believe, they will be brave enough to trust the other great things He has to say as they follow Him.
Do your kids memorize scriptures? Do you have a life verse picked out for yours?