Hidden Heroes {Memory Edition}

I remember the first time I did a Bible study by Beth Moore. Part of the homework was a weekly memory verse.

I felt convicted because I used to be diligent about memorizing Scripture, but somehow, I’d fallen out of practice.

This study—called Believing God—challenged me to start memorizing Bible verses again.

I hung in there pretty well for a while, but I was also a graduate student at the time—preparing to take my comprehensive exams, which would last a grueling nine hours.

On the last day of the Bible study, the women who had memorized all ten Bible verses were asked to stand up and share the verses with everyone in the room.

Nobody stood up.

I felt guilty. I had memorized most of the verses, but not all. Instead, I had devoted every waking minute to memorizing passages by Plato and Aristotle, the keynote sections I would need to recall when taking my comprehensive exams.

Then a woman in her sixties quietly stood up. Slowly, she began to recite each verse.

Word by word.
Phrase by phrase.
With long pauses between each one.

The rest of us in the room could only watch silently—agonizing with her as she tried to remember each line. If someone offered to give her the starting word of the next phrase, she would hold up her hand and shake her head. She wanted to do this. All of it. By herself.

So she continued.
Ever so slowly.
Word by word.
Phrase by phrase.

We sat there, holding our breath. Would she make it?

Another long pause.

Then, just about the time we would think it was over and she would give up, she came through with the next phrase. And we would all breathe again.

Finally, almost ten minutes later, she recited the last memory verse. She did it! And without any help from anyone.

The room exploded in applause.

When our cheering quieted down, she tearfully shared with us how her mother suffered from Alzheimer’s. She had witnessed this terrible disease steal her mother’s memory, so she wanted to memorize these verses to prove to herself that she could still remember.

Tears flowed. Both hers and ours. She still had her memory. And we rejoiced with her.

My sixty-something friend is one of my heroes. Her commitment to finish inspired me.

Somewhere along the way, I had lost my fervor for His Word. I had gotten too busy. While I pursued graduate courses and changed diapers and cooked meals, I let my Bible sit idly by my bed. And I took my memory for granted.

I went home that day and set aside my studies until I finished memorizing all ten verses. And I prayed. I prayed that God would renew my passion for His Word, the way I had once consumed it with devotion.

God was faithful to answer that prayer.

* * * * *

There are heroes in our churches, hidden amidst the pews, serving behind the scenes. These heroes aren’t necessarily the ones preaching powerful sermons or singing spectacular solos. They’re the ones who hug kids and welcome strangers.

They’re the ones who invite you over for blueberry pancakes.
They’re the ones who hold your fussy baby so you can hear a sermon.

They’re the ones who memorize His Word, encouraging others to do the same.

Is there a verse you are working on memorizing?
Do you know a hidden hero in your church?
Is there someone you could be a hidden hero to?

On Mondays, I am writing a new series called “Hidden Heroes,” recalling the ones who have ministered to me personally in heroic ways.

Today, I am thankful for . . .

121. Bible studies with women
122. women who lead by example
123. homework (yes, I really do love homework)
124. the challenge to memorize Scripture
125. determined commitment
126. painstaking perseverance
127. the ability to remember
128. rejoicing with a friend
129. a prayer of renewal
130. God’s faithfulness to answer prayer
131. an open Bible
132. His Word, alive and active in me

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for.

39 thoughts on “Hidden Heroes {Memory Edition}

  1. Pingback: The Definition of an Enemy May Surprise You {It Certainly Surprised Me} | Denise J. Hughes

  2. I love this hidden heroes series, every story inspires. I led several Beth Moore studies while my husband was pastoring a church in NC. They were life changing for everyone. This just emphasizes the need to memorize scripture more often than I do and for my children too. Beautiful story Denise.

    • I have since done several more Beth Moore studies, and I always enjoy them. I am really excited to begin her newest study on James!

      I think you make an excellent point: Memorizing Scripture is something we must model for our children as well.

  3. What an incredible moment to share with this precious woman… and what a powerful example for the rest of us! May all of our hearts be stirred with a passion for hiding God’s Word in our hearts!

  4. It was easy for me to memorize Scripture as a child, teenager, young mother…but when 50 hits, oh, it is so much harder. I struggle, memorize and promptly forget. But God is faithful. He blesses the verses I memorized young and bring them to mind just at the right time. “Thy words were good, and I did eat them. And they were the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.”

  5. I really liked your post. It was so inspiring and I am so behind the Alzheimer movement. I am going to start memorizing scriptures. I too have put this off and kept saying I was going to do this, but this post motivated me. Hidden Heroes..hmmm..I just called them friends, but I like the word “hero” better. Thanks Denise.

  6. I am thankful for my own radical moment when God made it so clear to me that His Word was just that important. It’s amazing to read other’s stories — when God totally impressed upon them this sense of importance.

    I love your concept here — discovering those hidden heroes. It makes me want to inspire — not in a flashy, fleshy way, but in a way that is only to give relief and glory to God.

  7. Well, Denise, nobody’s said it yet, so I will. Methinks one of the hidden heroes was the younger woman who was pursuing graduate studies, changing diapers, cooking meals, and all the rest of it and still managed to find time (after that incident) to memorize those verses! 🙂 I remember when I was a young married, doing grad work while teaching school. Sometimes I wasn’t even getting the basic household stuff done! Some of those courses are terribly demanding.
    Now that I’m older, kids grown and gone, no more work outside the home, I do have more time available for memorizing. So shame on me even more if I don’t do it! (But I actually love storing up that word treasure in my heart.) Great post. God bless.

  8. THis one made me cry too, Denise. Oh, the bravery. I am working on memorizing the book of James with Beth…only taking all of 2012 to do it. I never thought I could, but last year I started working on memorizing again and it felt wonderful. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. So, so sweet.

    • Laura, I’m about to start the Beth Moore study on James. I’m so excited. It’s my favorite book of the Bible, and I have always told myself that ‘someday’ I want to memorize the entire book. Perhaps that ‘someday’ will come sooner than I think! Let me know how it goes!

  9. Okay, now you’ve made me cry. 🙂 This is incredibly touching. And personal. My mother died from Alzheimer’s in 2010, and so I constantly question my memory for fear I’ll get it too. I’ve been memorizing scripture for the past several years, not just for its benefit now, but so that its meaning can seep into the deepest places of my soul in case I can’t recall the words later.

    I’ll bookmark this post for encouragement to return to. Thanks, Denise.

    • Oh, Lisa. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother.

      I know His Word never returns void, so I am confident that your diligence in memorizing His Word will return in untold dividends later, no matter what.


  10. Oh I love God’s word, I really do…so why have I gotten out of the habit of memorizing it? Thanks for the reminder, Denise, and sharing the story of your sixty-something friend, It was just what I needed to hear!

  11. Oh, ya gave me goosebumps, Denise! I want to give that sweet lady a hug! What an inspiration. Yes–a true hero. Love your series idea, by the way. Can’t wait to read the next one!
    My parents were very determined to teach us to hide His word in our hearts as youngsters. Memorizing scripture became a part of our chores. A necessity. And eventually, a habit. I’m so thankful. . . and have also taken it for granted. Thanks for inspiring me today!

  12. I teach a women’s Sunday School class at my church, and we were just talking yesterday about memorization–about carrying words with us. I memorized many verses as a child, and I still remember many of them (or at least snippets of them) all in the King James. Thank you for sharing this dear saint’s inspiring story. You’re right; there are many heroes of the faith among us!

  13. I remember that moment, vividly. Thank you for reminding me why it’s so important to take every opportunity to commit His Word to heart in our mind and our childrens’ too!!!

  14. Precious treasures that sadly (shamefully) I take for granted: God’s Word and my memory. And yet, this winning combination is precisely the oxygen my souls needs….each and every day… to dig deep to His Word and then hide it in my heart…yes.

    Thank YOU-

  15. What an important post. And so beautiful.

    I remember participating in our Bible quiz team when I was younger. Those memorized chapters have taken on a new life and deeper resonance for me. And for all these years. There is a very real, and hidden, gift tucked away in the art of memorization. Thank you for stirring us up here, Denise. Your Father is proud of you.

    • I never participated in a Bible quiz as a youngster. But I do believe that His Word never returns voids, so I am confident that all those verses you memorized, so long ago, still nourish your spirit.

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