Have you crossed paths with that super artsy musical friend of yours who says something like, “I just got done with a deep time of worship, took my guitar and a charango up on a mountain and communed with God like never before,” and then think ‘great for you, but I don’t play the guitar, I don’t really have any musical improv skills, and I don’t even know what a charango is’? I have those moments.
I wish I was super-creative and could use that to just express all of the desires from the depths of my heart to God, but I’m not, really. I love my time with God. I pray, listen, read His word... but to be honest, that sometimes gets monotonous. And then there’s scripture memory, I totally stink at it. I get it - the importance of it - but I stink at it.
My wife changed some of that recently.
She was leading a small group in a time of prayer, and gave us each pads of paper and crayons. We read some verses together and then she began an explanation of how we’d doodle out our prayers. A verse we read rang in my ears. I read it again, and while holding crayons and a blank piece of paper, suddenly the verse leapt off the page to me in a new and vibrant way. The imagery of the phrase became an actual pictoral image implanted in my head. My hands loosened up; I knew I’d remain unsettled until I put the image down on paper. Thus I did so. And then I did another. And another.
These images that I drew out weren’t pretty, my actual artwork resembled a 2nd-grade classroom’s wall decorations. But in putting pen to paper, the image in my head became even more ingrained. The verse came alive, the metaphor made sense, and I actually may have memorized a few verses out of it all.
An example: I read Psalm 119:72 and some other verses like it and tried to imagine the emotions invoked. The first thought that came to my mind was of a McDonald’s Monopoly game. I imagined what it would be like to peel back that 1 million dollar boardwalk piece from my cup. The joy, elation, excitement that would come from suddenly having more money than I could spend. Then I thought of what my life would be like if I had the same joy over God’s teachings, the same excitement over abiding in Him. What if I could actually turn away from the riches because He is greater? Then I attempted to draw that image. It stuck.
A suggestion: Start with Psalm 119 and read until a verse becomes an image. Then draw it. Do that every now and then. Psalm 119 is full of metaphors, descriptive language that naturally call up imagination. So create it! You don’t need skills.
Now I’ll humble myself and show a couple of examples:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. -Psalm 119:105
The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. -Isaiah 37:31