Book Excerpt from What If God Wrote Your To-Do List?: 52 Ways to Make the Most of Every Day by Jay Payleitner
Choose a Life Verse
Want to start an interesting dialogue with another believer? Ask, “Do you have a life verse?”
For a book project several years ago, I asked that very question of a slew of fascinating people, triggering some great responses and a few surprises.
What’s a life verse? Well, it’s a short excerpt from Scripture that has a special meaning to that individual. It might be a verse God provided at exactly the right time to help them through a tragedy or challenge. It may have helped them cast or crystallize a vision for their personal ministry. It could be a verse given to them by a grandmother or favorite teacher. Often, it relates directly to a turning point in their lives—perhaps their moment of salvation. Paradoxically, a life verse may change over the course of a life. Early on it might be about you. Later, you might choose a verse relating to others. A few examples might help.
Joni Eareckson Tada relates that after a reckless diving accident left her a quadriplegic, she would wake up in the morning and cry out, “Oh God, I can’t live this way…I don’t have the strength to face a life of paralysis.” That’s when she found her life verse. Second Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
Joni writes, “It began to dawn on me that my weakness might very well turn out to be a strength—it would force me into the arms of Jesus out of sheer desperation. And I learned that’s not a bad place to be.” Joni’s ministry continues to touch millions.
Charles Colson, former chief counsel to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, recalled a moment in his third day at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp. Moved to read his Bible, he found Hebrews 2:10-11:
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Colson suddenly realized the murderers and drug dealers with whom he shared incarceration were brothers, sinners like himself, and still loved by God. In that moment, Colson’s life found new purpose.
As an atheist, legal scholar, and news journalist, Lee Strobel spent nearly two years investigating the evidence for Jesus. Alone in his bedroom on November 8, 1981, he found himself drawn to John 1:12: “To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Lee suddenly noticed that the key words of John 1:12 formed an equation of how to become a follower of Jesus: Believe + Receive = Become. His story is documented in his book A Case for Christ.
Do you have a life verse? Reading these examples, perhaps a personally significant portion of Scripture has risen into your consciousness. Go ahead and claim it as your life verse. Meditate on it. Consider how it fits in the context of Scripture and the context of your life.
Don’t panic if you can’t identify the perfect verse. And feel free to change your life verse as your life evolves. A life verse is not like a tattoo that’s difficult to remove. But I do encourage you not to take this assignment lightly.
When you settle on your own life verse, commit it to memory. Read it in multiple translations—NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, King James, and so on—and choose the one that works well for you. Also, read it in context and see what a few Bible commentators have to say about that verse so you fully understand the meaning at its deepest level. Then go ahead and share it with a few people in the next week or so.
And if we cross paths, I hope you’ll share your life verse with me. I’ll share mine with you!
Checking the List
Of course, all of God’s Word has application to our lives. But there’s something satisfying and enriching about uncovering one small portion of the Bible and claiming it as your very own. Maybe even encourage others in your circle of influence to identify their own life verse.
Live the Bible.
You can purchase What If God Wrote Your To-Do List?: 52 Ways to Make the Most of Every Day by Jay Payleitner on Amazon or wherever books are sold.
After spending more than a decade writing and producing commercials, Jay Payleitner turned to writing and has written more than 25 books. including 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, What If God Wrote Your Bucket List? and The Jesus Dare, selling more than a half-million copies. Jay and his high school sweetheart, Rita, live in St. Charles, Illinois, where they raised five awesome kids, loved on ten foster babies, and are cherishing grandparenthood. Track him down at jaypayleitner.com.
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