In the last post, I had the privilege of sharing testimonies from Bible Bee contestants. Today, I'd like to share how God has used the Bible Bee in my personal life.
I think that it must have been 2009 when I first heard about the Bible Bee. The only part of the competition that I understood was that the contestants memorized tons of verses. My reaction was similar to most people's: sounds impressive, but definitely too hard for me.
Fast forward to 2011. Nationals was held a few hours from where I live, so we went, mostly just to listen to the speakers. On the last day of the competition, we watched the Finals of the Junior age division. My sisters and I were 14, 12, and 11 at the time. These contestants were our ages. Again, I was impressed, but I was certain that I could never memorize so many verses in a few months. But God had different plans.
In 2012, my dad signed up to host a Local Bible Bee, and he signed my siblings and me up to participate. I resigned myself to my fate -- spending an entire summer studying the Bible. I got a little bit more excited about it when the box of study materials came. We would be studying 2 Timothy and learning about 100 verses. (FYI, the past few years have had significantly fewer verses to memorize -- more like 50).
I did the bare minimum and did not give Bible Bee my best that summer. Honestly, I wasn't used to giving hardly anything my best. But I did learn several very important things that summer. First of all, I learned 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." This is a passage that has stayed with me since, reminding me that every single word in the Bible is good, true, and necessary.
Second, I learned to do a good thing when it was hard. Yes, Bible Bee was fun a lot of the time, but there were still many times when I would've rather been playing or reading a book. I began to realize that it was important to obey God, even when I was tired or felt lazy. His Word is my food, and I need to eat it even when I don't feel like eating it.
Third, I learned that I could memorize one hundred verses in a summer. I hadn't known this before. I had learned several hundred verses total during the first twelve years of my life, but I had never memorized this much in such a short amount of time. When you memorize almost every day, even if it's only a verse, you can't help but start to see a change in your life.
Finally, I began to experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit over my lack of love and dedication to the study of God's Word. Oh yes, I had experienced shame about it before. But now I was experiencing "godly grief [that] produces a repentance" (2 Corinthians 7:10). I wanted to change. I wanted to give my life to learning Scripture. I wanted to make it a very high priority.
This was true repentance, because it resulted in a change in my life. I began to read the Bible every single day, reading the "meat and vegetables" of the Pentateuch, and not just the "dessert" of Psalms. I started memorizing on my own for the first time as well. I had never memorized a whole book of the Bible, and now I was learning James, which also had a big impact on my life (just memorize James 4:17 if you want proof).
I came back to the Bible Bee in 2013 with extra motivation, because now I loved and desired the Word of God. I determined to give it my best (or at least better). Something wonderful also happened that year. Ever since early 2011, I had doubted if I was truly saved, but now I came to a full assurance that I was secure in Christ, that I was saved by His grace and couldn't look to my works for salvation.
To my complete shock, I qualified for Nationals that year. I stood completely in awe of the grace and goodness of God. At first, I was thrilled, and then, I was overwhelmed. Six hundred verses in three months -- impossible! And I'm just a normal person. I can't do that. But I didn't know the verse that says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
I decided to "just try it until I give up". So I did try it, and I was very surprised to find that I was able to (or rather, that God was enabling me). I was also surprised to find that I absolutely loved it! Instead of feeling drained after memorizing, I felt refreshed. Over and over, the Lord revealed to me how wrong my attitude had been toward His Word.
I've now competed in the Bible Bee for five years. I've never won a trophy. I've only competed on stage once (and that was over very quickly). But I've gained a prize much more valuable -- knowledge of and love for God's Word. Scripture is now my greatest delight. "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts." (Jeremiah 15:16)
Join me this summer as I study the Word of God!