V and I knew early on that our dear son was great at memorizing things–facts, books, driving directions–from a very early age. Since he began grade school, part of his weekly curriculum has been recalling and reciting verses from the Bible. He has always been able to recite his verse early in the week for extra points, with little help or prompting from us at home. At the end of each school year, there is a regional fine arts competition, and L was asked in first grade to participate in the category of “serious interpretation”: a famous speech or part of a book. He chose, and took first place, for his recitation of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”. Last year, in second grade, he was invited to try in the category of “poetry”. He selected G.K. Chesterton’s “The Hunting of the Dragon”, and received second prize.
This year, his principal and teacher have asked him to compete in the category of “interpretation of Scripture”. His selection must take between 2 and 5 minutes to recite, and it must be from the King James version of the Bible (for those of you not as familiar with different translations of the Bible, think lots of “thee’s” and “thou’s”. It’s a a little tricky for anyone, let alone an 8-year old.) The judges score the students’ accuracy, timing, enunciation, delivery, tone, and body language.
By the end of February, L must turn in his choice of passages. I advised him to pick a portion of Scripture that really excites him, that he would love to tell someone else about, and maybe one that has lots of dialogue so he can use emotions and gestures to engage those who are listening. I even spent some time last week reading some of my favorite passages out loud and timing them to get an idea of what we should consider.
Tonight, he said he thinks he has made his choice: Acts 9, the dramatic story of Saul, who was a vehement persecutor of those in the early Church. On his way to Damascus, he was stopped by a “light from heaven” flashing around him. The Bible tells us, “He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.'”
The rest of the chapter chronicles what happened to Saul as he was transformed from the inside out by God into the man we know as Paul, great early missionary and author of many of the letters to churches in the New Testament. If you’ve never read it, try to find it and check it out. I can think of few parts of the Bible that show more of God’s grace and His way of choosing the most unlikely people to carry out His work! Paul went on to experience shipwreck, imprisonment, and beatings, all on account of his sharing the good news about Jesus Christ!
I am excited for L to memorize this amazing story and to share it with those present at the competition. What about you? If you had 2-5 minutes to share from memory part of the Bible, what would you pick?