As a child I used to wait for my church to announce the scholarship programs for our local church camp.
Church camp for me was the one week every summer that I looked forward to most.
It literally was Christmas in July for me.
I went every year, and in order for me to be allowed to go in the early years, I had to earn my way via my church’s scholarship.
And the scholarship involved many different ways of earning points… like sending this tone deaf kid up in front of everyone to sing a special during service.
But the meat of the points were to be earned by memorizing scripture.
And so I would recite, recite and recite some more waiting for mom to check it off that I finally “got” that one.
John 3:16-17, Pslams 23, The Lord’s Prayer, The Ten Commandments… oh and the shortest verse in the Bible… John 11:35– All were regulars on the scholarship as best I can remember.
Then, when I would get to camp, we would have morning devotion time and… more memory verse time.
I actually liked it.
I know, I was a weird kid.
That is okay, I grew up into an even weirder adult!
Eventually, my camp days ended and so did my memory verse work… for many, many years.
This week I found myself again earning my way to “church camp” so to speak as I joined the Siesta Scripture Memory Verse Team.
As I picked out my first verse to memorize, Colossians 4:6 immediately came to mind.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”- ESV
It was a verse that comforted me in the middle of a really long period of spiritual struggle with feeling like I didn’t belong in the church.
My sabbatical from the church pew had grown inside of me a huge heart for those outside of the walls of the church… particularly those who felt condemned by the church or hurt by it in some way… for those who felt they weren’t welcome at church… for those who felt Christianity was no longer relevant today.
I knew in my heart that was not what God intended. AT. ALL.
And, this verse really helped me hang on to my faith when I had given up on church.
(Lightening things up a bit) Fun fact: Did you know that GOODEness Gracious originally started out as a blog called Seeking to be Salty? And that title originally came from this verse.
Ironically, I NEVER connected the “Gracious” in this blog’s name to this verse until tonight when reciting my memory verse.
I actually laughed out loud at God’s sense of humor… putting it there right in front of me all these years…
Right there in my blog’s name, He hid that verse that I hung onto all these years… almost as if it was a sign I never saw– that this blog would play a major role in bringing me back to Him and to a church I can proudly call home that has a HUGE heart for the wounded and those outside of their four walls.
Ya see, in my first couple months as a blogger, I started following this very awesome local blogger who surprised me when she took the time to email me back. She was huge. I was a very small blogger who didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But Becky never ignored me. She always treated me so kindly. We didn’t even blog in the same niche, but if I had a question, she would always answer it.
When I decided to go to my first blog conference, I told Becky and told her how scared I was to go alone. She immediately told me I always had a seat next to her, gave me her number and again treated me so kindly. And then she invited me to her church’s moms’ group. But schedules never quite worked out so I promised her I would go to one of her church services instead.
And then me and all my church baggage landed smack dab right on the church steps of the church I am convinced God gave me the heart for 15 years prior.
And the rest is history.
Our church embodies Colossians 4:6.
I am grateful for Colossians 4:6 in this time where our nation is so polarized and words can get so hateful. Social issues, political agendas and even tragedies now draw out the sharpest of tongues in all of us. The world needs grace and the gracious and graceful speech now more than ever. I am far from always gracious (just ask Puddie), but it is in my heart to aspire to be… and this verse has called me back in check in a few areas where I haven’t been.
I am so proud to be with a church that understands the need to season our community with salt. In the food world, salt is a staple in cooking. It brings out the best in food. You use salt delicately and per the specific recipe… or often to taste. Salt isn’t something you throw around or omit all together. You handle it with care per what the dish needs. Salt makes food taste better.
I love how the ESV version of this verse says “how to answer each person”. Not “how to pontificate to all of humanity”. Instead, it offers an implication that we are living our lives in a way that someone asks a question… and is actually interested in an answer.
So that is my long winded way of sharing why I chose Colossians 4:6 as my first of 24 memory verses for the team challenge.
I get more from the verse each time I practice it.
I fall in love with the layers of meaning it has had for me all these years and that God was faithful in bringing me to the place he gave me a longing for… when there were days I began to think I should just give up.
But instead, this verse came full circle for me– so much so that I ordered a necklace to wear with it inscribed on it to help me remember this journey.
And now I am beyond excited to see what revelations the next 23 verses will bring– not to mention join a few of my friends at the celebration in Houston next January!