If you’ve been around Christians for long enough, you’re probably familiar with the discipline of scripture memory. There is the sacred memory verse of the week, the jumble of letters on someone’s wrist to help them memorize a verse, or perhaps the life verse painted on someone’s wall. When I was a baby Christian, I was not a fan of this practice. Something about memorizing God’s word felt intimidating. I didn’t want to get it wrong; it was too important…
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you… I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” – Psalm 119:11,16
Growing up, I believed in a god and prayed to that god when I was anxious, but I didn’t know Jesus. It wasn’t until 8th grade, when my parents went through a divorce, that my family and I stepped into a church regularly. I’ll never forget the peace and belonging I felt the first time we went, despite my shock that the worship resembled a concert and my fear of awkwardly seeing a classmate from school. Miraculously, my parents were reunited and remarried shortly after, and slowly the Spirit starting tugging on my own heart.
But there’s something you need to know about me. I’m determined, devoted, and a recovering perfectionist, so I wasn’t about to put my trust in this God I heard about unless I knew the whole backstory. So, I started volunteering with my church’s preschool ministry, which turned out to be the perfect place to start learning about the Bible and Jesus; little did the kids know how much I was learning alongside them!
My relationship with Jesus kept growing, and I was understanding that Jesus wasn’t just a model of morality, but my precious savior. By my junior year of high school, I wanted to give my life to Christ, and I wanted to be baptized and declare that my trust was in Jesus, but part of me still felt like I didn’t know enough. The Bible was the lengthiest book I owned! And I was afraid about what I would say if somebody asked me a question about Christianity because I was no theologian.
And that’s when Proverbs 3:5 captured my heart and set it free from that fear.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
Reading this opened my eyes to acknowledge that I would never understand all of God’s ways. Not that I wouldn’t grow in understanding, but I could lean on God in all situations. Jesus didn’t ask me to be a theologian, nor to know everything or be perfect, but rather to trust him. The gospel continues to remind me that my salvation is not found in how much I know or anything I’ve done, but completely in the love God has for me, for all people made in his image, that he sent Jesus as his word to restore our relationship.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
A sweet friend in high school encouraged me that my walk with Jesus would not be perfect, and there would be times when I fell short or my faith wavered. But God is faithful, his word endures, and I believe he is good. So even when I don’t understand, I can find comfort in the fact that I am known and loved by God, and I will keep learning and growing.
And so, I was baptized at 17 and actually do have Proverbs 3:5 painted across 4 large canvases in my room. Is it my life verse? I don’t know, but I do know it’s written on my heart. I’m still not great at memorizing God’s word, but the thought of memorizing and reciting scripture isn’t scary anymore. It’s encouraging because it reminds me of the truth, and the Lord uses his people to encourage one another with his word. And when scripture is confusing, I know God is right there with me, and I can trust him.