Get out your pencils and let’s try a few things. But before you do, let me add this—you do not have to be an artist. The only one who is worried about what those drawings look like is you. Once the child knows what they are, he uses them like other people use mnemonics—to help him remember. And this is where the good old stick man comes into play.
I cannot draw. I can’t even do a Jackson Pollock splatter. Oh, I can do the basic tree--a brown stick with a fluffy green cloud on top. I can do a light bulb, which comes in handy every time you come across the word “light” in a verse. I can do the daisy on a stem with two leaves and the square house with two windows and a door. For a sheep, I can draw yet another fluffy cloud, this one white, with four stick legs, and a head and tail.
No, I can’t do much in the way of drawing—but I can make a stick man do practically anything. He can pray, he can kneel, he can run, he can walk, he can fish (I will make you fishers of men), he can sleep, he can shout, he can talk or preach or sing or any other sound, simply by drawing him an open mouth. You tell the children what he is doing—trust me, they will remember.
One other thing: make important words look special. Always put God or Lord or Spirit in a puffy cloud. Draw only the bottom half of a cloud and write “heaven” in it when you need that word. Take words like faith and grace and good and evil, put them in all caps and box them in an appropriate color, like blue for good and red for evil. Before long, those children who are “too young to learn anything” will actually start to recognize those special words.
So what did I do with that hard memory verse Silas brought home? Remember as you read the verse below, the drawings replace one word or phrase; you don’t write the words under the drawing. What I drew ended up like this (the brackets are the pictures I drew instead of the word or phrase immediately preceding them):
See [Stick man with hand above his eyes as if he is looking off in the distance] what kind of love [heart] the FATHER (in a cloud) has given to us [3 stick men, one handing something to two others] that we should be called [stick man with hands around his mouth and flared out lines coming from his mouth] children [several smaller stick people] of GOD (in a cloud).
Silas learned that verse in one afternoon, and he loved that card. If he could learn that one, what’s to stop him from simple things like “You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill?” Come on now, you can draw that one yourself, right?
One more step remains in this process. Eventually you should reach the point that you can draw only one or two of the pictures from that card onto a smaller one. Then use it like a flashcard. When your child sees it, s/he should automatically spout out the longer verse. It will happen. As you add verses, you constantly go over the old ones using only the small “one picture” flashcards. I used to have the parents come into the class after services at the end of every quarter. When they saw their two and three year olds quoting ten or eleven memory verses just from looking at a simple line drawing, or a good old stick man, on an index card, they were amazed.
Your child can do it too. I know it, and so does God.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children--Deuteronomy 4:9.
See the gallery on the left sidebar for pictures of memory verse cards and flashcards. If you click on the picture it will enlarge.
Note: This is not the verse in the post above. This is one we used during the lesson where David refused to harm Saul in the cave of Engeddi (see tomorrow's post). But this one will show you what to do with verses that do not easily lend themselves to drawing. Like the word "wrath." Bright red in a jagged balloon. When you tell a child that wrath means really, really angry, they will get it. Of course, you will also have to explain "avenge" and "vengeance," but the explaining itself will help cement those words in their minds.