Yesterday, I was surprised to discover that Jon Scanlon and his wife Jan were seated behind us at church. The reason for my pleasure is that it afforded an opportunity to thank this man – whom I’d never met personally – for the impact he had on my life.
Years ago he came to our church and performed a dramatic monologue of John the beloved disciple. It was a lengthy skit, flawless in its presentation, complete with props.
In an instant, I was enraptured; captivated by this disciple-come-to-life. He was on the Isle of Patmos, recounting his time with Jesus. It was deeply stirring.
However, what I did not realize at that time was that the impact was to go far beyond the story Jon told that day, for deep in my heart a seed was planted.
As I watched this man speak from memory for a half-hour or more, he taught me.
Oh, not the lesson he had for us in his presentation, but the truth that lengthy memorization of valuable material was possible.
The dream was born to memorize the book of Philippians! Over the next months, I would recite parts of it to anyone who would listen.
Memorization was much easier than I expected. Somehow we’ve believed the lie that to commit Scripture to memory is beyond our scope of capability. However, when I thought about it, I had tons of information memorized – commercial jingles, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
Besides, the Holy Spirit lives within us. With His help, it’s not impossible.
Further, I discovered that it was far easier to memorize an entire chapter than a single verse. With the surrounding verses, each has something else on which it “hangs.” A great benefit is that one has the context for each verse – and they’re less apt to be applied incorrectly.
With Philippians and a handful of Psalms under my belt, I gained confidence. When a “reader’s theater” was announced at church, I auditioned, and got one of the parts. This wasn’t much of a feat – there were four parts, and four who auditioned!
Because of Jon’s performance, I knew memorization was possible, so I got to work. The skit went very well.
As a result of this Christmas Eve reader’s theater, I was asked to present a monologue at the Good Friday service. The material was Max Lucado’s essay, “He Chose the Nails.”
Later, I began to read Scripture during our music worship on Sundays. It was very well received, and most weeks, someone asked for the verses I’d given. What a thrill to know that God was using this gift to minister to others.
A few years later, the local mission asked for volunteers to record audio versions of the books used for the recovery program. Some of their students were unable to read, which hindered their ability to complete their assignments. By this time, I had recording equipment, so I accepted the invitation to read the books.
Memorization continued, and the 91st Psalm was added to the collection. Because of this last choice, I was able to trust the Lord when a dog bit me during a mission trip to Nicaragua. You can read about it here: (Bitten.)
Other books are becoming audio recordings, and my latest idea is that of a short weekly podcast.
Now, don’t miss my point. It isn’t: “Wow, she’s amazing!”
It is this: Every one of these things I can trace back to a skit I saw by a man who was obedient to God’s call.
A man who wondered if what he did ever really mattered!
The gift he imparted to me so long ago bore much fruit…and he had no idea.
So I ask, “Who is watching you? What are you imparting to others?”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.