You may have heard people talk before about having a life verse and wondered exactly what they meant. Was this something given to them? Was it something they picked? Did they have a life verse for literally all of their lives or could it change depending on the season and circumstances? Was it supposed to be something that looked good as a letter-press poster hanging up on a gallery wall in someone’s home or was it meant to be something that spoke about what was going on down deep in a person’s soul? Or both?
What I’ve always understood a life verse to be is some shorter portion of Scripture God used in a particular way during a particular season of your life, which had such a significant impact that it continues to hold deep, personal meaning for you even today.
I never thought I had a life verse. That’s not to say God hasn’t used His Word in significant ways in my walk with Him. He has, and He continues to do so. I can rattle a lot of them off. Joshua 1:9. Psalm 8:3-4. Hosea 6:1. John 14:12. Acts 1:8. Romans 8:15. Ephesians 2:4-5. Philippians 2:5. 2 Corinthians 5:17. I could go on.
While each of these Scriptures are precious to me, personally, and have had profound impact on my own development into the man. God wants me to be, I never really consciously grasped on to one in particular to serve as a sort of anchor-hold in my relationship with God. But, then, I started preaching at summer camps.
I have been a part of working, hosting, and producing summer camps since very early in my ministry, but it wasn’t until 7-8 years ago that I began being the main speaker and teacher at some of these camps. Along with that came something rather unexpected. Kids began coming up to me at these camps and asking for my autograph. Now, I’m far from a celebrity and far from anyone significant in any way, but my simply standing on a stage and attempting to hold their attention for 30 minutes meant that I was important enough in the eyes of the kids at these camps that they would want me to sign something. What made it especially awkward is that, in addition to things like t-shirts and notebooks, kids would often ask me to autograph their Bibles.
That just seemed wrong to me, on so many levels, but they were asking innocently enough, and I didn’t feel like diminishing their spirits and enthusiasm by refusing. So, I would often go through with it, but to ease my own conscience, I would make sure to add a particular Scripture reference along with my name to serve as something much more valuable they could remember and reflect upon. I quickly realized that whenever I did this I was most often writing “1 John 5:5” after my name.
That reference definitely belongs in the list of others I made earlier, but I soon realized that, for me, it held an even more special place in my heart and mind than all the others. It slowly dawned on me, “this is my life verse.”
Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 John 5:5
For most of my life, since I was an adolescent, I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and feelings of despair and self-loathing. This culminated in a time during my college years when my roommate called my father to report that he felt like I needed some serious help. I had everything going for me. I was a good student and active on campus. I had lots of good friends and came from a great family. I was serving on my first church staff as part of the student ministry and was dating the woman who would become my wife. Things were great, but I wasn’t. I was so lost in hopelessness that I eventually just shut down and couldn’t get out of bed to do anything.
My father got me in with a great Christian counselor who served a the church where I was on staff. In our sessions together I was eventually able to vocalize the burden of desperation and discouragement I felt because of the world in which we lived. Everything I saw in the world around me, no matter how big or how small, felt cataclysmic. I remember him helping me see that, from some perspectives, that’s true. The problems of the world are so big that only God, Himself, could overcome them.
It was during this time that I found myself reading 1 John. Honestly, I was reading it more for chapter 4 where John writes about love because I needed to be reminded of God’s love for me during that time. However, I kept going and got to chapter 5 where I then read verse 5 and saw that because of what God had done to conquer or overcome the world, that I too shared in that victory. I won’t tell you that realization solved my issues immediately, but it did start the process and continues to serve as an anchor-hold for me even today.
So, that’s a little bit about what my own life verse is and why it means so much to me. Now, we want to know yours.
On Sunday, August 19, we'll begin a new sermon series where we will feature life verses selected from ones submitted by you, the members of Brook Hills. We are looking forward not only to celebrating how God has used these Scriptures in your life but also to seeing how He'll use them now in the life of our faith family. Submit yours today at brookhills.org/lifeverses or by picking up a card at the Brookstore.
Chris Kinsley serves as an Elder and our Communications Director. He and his wife, Liza, have been members of Brook Hills since 2004 and have two children, Story and Haven.