"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ridin' Shotgun

He was memorizing Scripture before he could read. Actually he was memorizing Scripture just as soon as he was able to talk! After Matthew was born, and when he was just a toddler, I stopped to think of all the little nursery rhymes that were still stuck in my head all these years…well, decades later. I realized that if those rhymes were what I (and almost everyone else I knew) remembered best, then the key must be that it was because of the young age at which we learned those nursery rhymes.

I decided if little kids could remember nursery rhymes that easily at that age, then they could also remember Bible verses. I am a firm believer that it is in our best interest to learn and memorize Scripture. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” So, instead of teaching Matthew nursery rhymes, I had him memorize Scripture. I also believed that the brain was a muscle, and muscles need to be exercised. Memorizing Bible verses, I determined, was a great way to exercise the brain.

Matt sailed through AWANA, the children’s Christian organization whose main facet is in the memorization of Scripture. It is structured by age groups: Sparkies, Braves, Warriors...something like that. Matthew joined Sparkies at the age that he should have almost been finishing that age group and moving to the next age group. He wanted to finish all the books that were required for that age, so he memorized and completed in just a few months what most kids take 3 years to complete i.e. a book a year.  Instead, Matt memorized one book in a little over a month. At the time, I didn’t know that was exceptional. I was new to the organization, and I didn’t even know they only did a book a year. I just knew Matt could do all three, that he wanted to finish all three before he advanced to the next age group, so that is what I helped him do.

Later when the AWANA Commander made such a big deal out of his accomplishment at the award ceremony, I realized Matthew’s memory probably wasn’t normal, but rather a gift.

We continued the Bible memorization throughout his schooling. It always came easy for him. I knew someday, Matt would use and appreciate his gift. The knowledge of this utilization came a few years ago for me, when Matt went off to his first Civil Air Patrol encampment. He had a blast at this 7 day encampment. He was able to fly a flight simulator, have a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter, and participate in some other exciting events.

Encampment is an amazing opportunity, but the telling moment for me was when he arrived home and we sat down on the couch so he could tell me all about his adventures. The first thing out of his mouth was not at all about the helicopter ride or other cool activities. The first thing he told me was, “Mom, I got to witness to a boy that didn’t know Jesus! It was so cool! TB and I were lying on our bunks reading our Bibles and this other kid started asking questions.”

Matt proceeded to tell me about the Bible Verses he was able to quote to help this kid understand the questions that he had. This was a great moment for me; my son was so excited! I was seeing the fruit of our efforts as his parents. Matthew had connected with the wonderful feeling of being able to share his faith, by utilizing his gift. It was one of those moments in which a parent realizes the growth that has indeed occurred in their child….and it was as this parent had hoped. Witnessing had beat out a Blackhawk helicopter ride in the things Matt wanted to share. :-)

Yesterday was Matt’s 18th birthday. He’s considered an adult now. There aren’t any huge changes taking place. I had turned loose of the reins, a while ago, and have only been riding shotgun. I expect I will take a back seat in the wagon now that Matt is 18 and that is ok. Maybe, I will even get out and walk a while.
Thanks, E for the photo!
But on his birthday, I once again had that feeling I had a few years ago when I knew that everything was going to be ok. That perhaps his dad and I hadn’t done too bad a job in raising our son.

Yesterday, we were riding in the car on our way to town when Matthew told me. “It was soooo great, Mom!” Someone had asked him a question and he was able to respond with Scripture. The person countered with another thought, and Matt was able to respond with another Bible verse.

There were others present during this conversation, all Christians, and this was a pleasant discussion that Christians will often have with one another. An older gentleman in the group, praised Matthew's memory and it really made Matt feel good. “That is awesome that you have memorized verses like that!” the gentleman told him. Later, Matt heard the man telling his wife about Matt's ability to quote the Bible. The adults present, all made a pretty big deal out of Matt’s gift, encouraging him in his faith.

One of them asked Matt about his ability to remember verses like that.

“Well”, he told them, “I have been memorizing Scripture before I can even remember!"

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
 Psalm 119:105

Photo by Matt's cousin, E!
Thank you, E!
You go, Son!


  1. Happy 18th Birthday Matthew! We have been so privileged to watch you grow up to be such a lover of God and His Word. Jan, you guys have done an excellent job. I always say that Matthew marches to the tune of his own drummer, but I think it is more God has special things for him to do and has used you to equip him for those good works ahead. Blessings! Amie

  2. Thank you, Amie! You made me cry, again. :-)
    You are always such an encourager to me....so glad the Lord brought you guys into our lives.