Who knew doodling in class could be such a good idea? Karen and I sat down in our seminary class on Church History this month, doubtful that our spotty memories could retain all the information from 20 centuries of names, dates and events. Not to worry, though—our animated professor had a plan!
He taught us to memorize a letter (only consonants) to match each of the 10 numerical digits, then turn those letters into word-pictures. For example, number one is represented by the letter “T” and 11 could be “ToT,” so he had us imagine two tots playing tug-of-war with the church to represent how the Catholic and Orthodox church split during the 11th century (over issues like beards and what bread to use in communion). It sounds ridiculous even as I recount it, but I’ve got to tell you that those 20 centuries are all pretty clear in my head along with many of the significant people of the time.
But what did God teach us through all of this? Beyond simply how to memorize things better, we learned so much about how God has been on the move since the days of Jesus, through (and sometimes in spite of) the dubious dedication of His children. I can see where a lot of people with different backgrounds are coming from. I have a greater desire to reach out to those who are different and get to know them.
It also gives me confidence about the future. The Church has continually gone through lots of trouble from inside and out and, if it were up to people, it would have languished long ago…but the Holy Spirit keeps breathing new life on those who are willing, and He will continue to do so until Jesus returns!