I am an awful memorizer. Abysmal. Atrocious. (If there are more “A” adjectives for this I am those as well.) I struggle and fail at memorizing anything.
Let me explain. While taking a biblical studies course a few years ago, I was required to memorize scripture! Shocking! Going out on limb I chose Galatians 5:22-23, the famous fruit of the spirit passage. I studied for weeks. Flashcards. The maddening (or fun) song. I read it over and over. On the test: I blanked. I didn’t even remember how to start it. I wrote something vague like God loving the world and sending his son. Completely wrong! I still can’t get all the way through it.
I could go on and on with my memorizing fails. My students have always been companions with me in my memorization struggle. I have allowed my struggle and their resistance to form an excuse not to try. This was sin in my life and ministry.
I have been told, and have previously told my students, that memorizations was the only way for scripture to be written on my heart (Deuteronomy 11:18, Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 7:3, Jeremiah 31:33). If I couldn’t, if my students wont, then my heart remains untouched by the word of God in this way.
While I continue to work as scripture memorization, I have come to believe that the author of salvation can write the words of truth on our hearts in many ways.
For the past two or three years I have been practicing something that JD Walt calls rememberizing.¹ In its fullest meaning, rememberizing is leveraging the connection between movement, memory, and meaning. When we combine the movement of our bodies and an ongoing/continually-accessed memory with the meaning that is represented we rememberize. Now, I invite my students to rememberize scripture.
For any passage of scripture, the student will return the following week to share everything about that passage they can recount. Usually they get between 50%-75% of the words verbatim; they almost always speak to how the core meaning of the scripture impacted their life. It is like the scripture lives inside them, perhaps written on their heart.
How do you do it? Here are four steps to get you started rememberizing:
- Choose a verse or collection of verses. This may be based on what you are studying or not. Your call.
- Encourage the students to physically engage, to move with the scripture, possibly the same way each time. One student of mine found that reading the passage aloud at the beginning of each meal was powerful. Another juggled and tried to repeat it.
- Encourage the student to find a memory in their life that connects to the scripture.
- When the student returns to share the passage, ask them to say the passage, focusing on the words but also on the meaning. Then, celebrate!
¹Used without permission. But he said it and it has stuck, like the idea of the word itself. Thanks JD.