Although I taught all ages of piano and voice students, my Bible class teaching gradually shifted till I was teaching the middle school class most of the time. I forgot some of the techniques I had used so long ago when my own boys were toddlers. Then Silas came to visit during Vacation Bible School and they sent him back to us with a memory verse, the wording of which I knew immediately would be difficult for a three year old: See what manner of love the father has given to us that we should be called children of God, 1 John 3:1.
Just repeating this three or four times was not going to get it done. Then I remembered the old memory verse cards I used to make for the toddler class. You turn the memory verse into something resembling a rebus, a picture puzzle, substituting drawings for certain words. I developed my own “ethics” though. I never used what I call text language. No number 4 for the word “for” and no homonyms. That would only make the verse harder for them to comprehend, which was the ultimate goal.
That leads me to an important aside. Some people are convinced that small children cannot memorize; some are even convinced that memory verses are overrated. Small children cannot memorize? Have you ever heard a two year old recite word for word an entire scene from a Disney movie? Have you ever accidentally misread their favorite book only to have them say, “No! It goes like this…” and then proceed to finish the page for you?
Just because it’s scripture doesn’t mean they can’t do it. Josephus says of the Jews that their children were “nourished up in the laws from their infancy.” Edersheim says in Sketches of Jewish Social Life that in the time of Christ, home teaching began when the child was three, and then at five he started the book of Leviticus! What a way to begin. As far as memory verses being overrated, I don’t know what I would do without the verses that were implanted in both my head and heart from the time I can remember. They rise up when I need them, and have gotten me through a number of tough situations. How can anyone say that having the word of God instantly spring to your lips and your mind is overrated?
As for these memory verse cards, Silas loved them. Even though he couldn’t read them, he carefully pointed out word for word, using the pictures to jog his memory. Whenever I pulled it out he asked, “Can I hold it?” and was thrilled to show others how he could say his memory verse. Isn’t that the kind of reaction you want from your children as they learn the word of God?
Tomorrow’s post will lead you through the process of making a memory verse card. I hope you will overcome your skepticism and join me again.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber…Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. Joel 2:15,16; 1:3.