When I was a teenager I made a choice that changed my life.
At only thirteen years old, I sat down at my computer and read about a program called the National Bible Bee (kind of like a spelling bee, but for Bible memory). That can’t be too hard, I thought to myself as I convinced my mom that I wanted to sign up.
I thought it would be something fun for the summer. Something to keep me busy. And you could even have the opportunity to go compete in Nashville, TN. That definitely sounded like fun.
What I never would’ve expected was the way my heart and life would change over the next several years of my life.
During my time in the National Bible Bee, I spent countless hours pouring into Scripture memorization and studying whole books of the Bible. Thousands of hours would pass as I memorized thousands of Bible verses over the years. And slowly my heart shifted.
Instead of participating in a competition just for “fun,” I recognized that what I was doing went far beyond just “friendly competition.”
When you immerse yourself in the Word of God over an entire summer or fall, you begin to realize that nothing else in life is really as important as those times you spend getting to know God better or hiding His matchless Word in your heart.
My time participating as a teenager in the National Bible Bee not only turned my heart towards a lifelong desire to know God deeper, but it also supplied me with the tools and self-discipline I needed to learn how to make Bible study a priority as a young adult.
Whether or not you’ve ever competed in a Bible competition, it is vital to your spiritual health as a teenager and young person that you purposefully set aside time to study and memorize the Word of God.
But exactly what does this look like? And how do we incorporate these things into our daily schedules and often crazy routines?
MAKE THE CHOICE
If you do not make the choice that Bible study and memorization is vital to your spiritual health, then you will constantly be in a spiral of trying different “quiet time routines” that never seem to work out.
Your heart has to be in it.
Here is the most important piece of advice that I can give to you as a young person: Nothing in this life is greater than a close relationship with God. There is nothing in this world–nothing at all–that can bring you more joy or more satisfaction than knowing Him. There is no greater adventure than following Him wholeheartedly.
But you can only follow someone that you know.
So today make the choice. Are you going to make time with Jesus a priority? Are you going to make your relationship with Him your most important thing?
That choice determines how everything else goes.
CREATE A LIST AND PUT GOD FIRST
Often we don’t incorporate Bible study or memorization into our daily routines because we fail to make it a priority.
Take some time today (or even right now if you have a piece of paper and a pen!) to write out a list of everything you do in one day. From your school responsibilities, to your responsibilities around the house, etc.
Once you have your list, put God at the top. Before you open your emails and hit reply, or before you scroll through Pinterest for dinner ideas, or before you check your best friend’s instagram status–even before you open your school textbooks–mark in the time you’re going to spend with God. Maybe you start with just 30 minutes. Physically write those 30 minutes into your calendar.
If you say, from 9am-9:30am, I am going to study and memorize my Bible verses, you are more likely to follow through than if you hadn’t picked a time at all.
Pick a time that works for you and stick with it!
We need accountability, that’s all there is to it. We need a firm friend or a trusted mentor who will stand by our side and push us to follow through with our commitments and encourage us to grow.
As a teenager I tried several times to read the Bible through in a whole year. The times when I kept that commitment to myself, I was more likely to skip days or forget about it. However, the times when I asked a friend to join me or to keep me accountable I was much more likely to follow through. I knew that my friend or trusted adult would be asking me what I’d read in my Bible study and what I was learning. It certainly helped to motivate me.
Find someone that you trust. Ask them if they would be willing to keep you accountable to study and memorize your Bible. Pick a day they will check in with you each week and see if you’ve completed your goals. It’s even more fun if your accountability partner is memorizing verses with you!
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE MINUTES
Finally, we waste a lot of minutes, especially as teenagers.
Even now I find myself guilty of waiting in line somewhere at a drive thru for 20 minutes, or waiting for a Zoom call to begin in 15 minutes, and instead of using those minutes, I waste them. I waste them by casually scrolling through Pinterest (I admit my addiction), or checking Instagram for the 700th time this evening. I find that especially now during quarantine it is much easier to waste minutes because I buy into the lie that “Well, I have all day.”
Those minutes that we waste add up to hours. And those hours add up to days. And days add up to our lives.
Do we really want to stand in front of God someday and say, “Well, God, I’m so sorry that I didn’t spend more time with you–I was too busy using my extra minutes to check Snapchat and Instagram?” Ouch. That’s certainly not something I want to be guilty of.
Look for the minutes you might not think about.
The minutes when you’re driving–play an audio Bible. The minutes when you’re washing dishes–work on memorizing or reviewing verses. The minutes in line at the drive thru–memorize or review more verses.
Don’t let your minutes slip through your fingers.
Incorporating Bible study and memorization into your daily routine won’t always be easy, but I can promise you one thing. It was always, always be worth it.