Strive for the High Prize

Bible Quiz – more than just a game

The Bible Quizzing season begins in September, but many quizzers start studying just weeks after Nationals in April. Months upon months are put into the preparation for the season. Sacrifices to study are many, including;hanging out with friends, movies, TV, internet, to name a few. We are talking about high school students—not college students, not for grades, not for money, not even for recognition necessarily.
Some of them might not even be able to tell you why they put in all the effort; but the rest of them know. They have memorized verses telling them giving them the answer.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2nd Timothy 2:15

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 3:14
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” – Colossians 3:1
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” – 2nd Peter 1:2

They know these reasons because they have studied them and have seen their reward firsthand. They have been in situations where the verses they have put into their minds have brought them comfort. They have been immediately stricken with God’sword when they have stumbled. They have been challenged by the words they memorize, and many of them have been changed for the better through them. The competition may be added motivation, but these (for most) are the reasons they study as hard as they do.

However,their character and obedience of the text they study is not tested until the first tournament. The Kentuckiana Kick Off Tournament is typically the first tournament of the year. It is located in Indiana at Indian Creek Baptist Camp and hosted by Pleasant View Baptist Church of Kentucky. The teams typically arrive Thursday, and enjoy the camp’s activities: volleyball courts, miniature golf course,basketball courts, frisbee golf course, and human foosball. Friendships are born on Thursday, and much fun is had.

Then Friday night the tournament begins. While the friendships remain, there is a tension in the air, sharp and pointed. The quizzing on Friday is Round Robin, but is also the first time the quizzers have faced each other on this text. They size each other up, almost daring to hope that their studying has prepared them enough for this moment. Few will feel that it has when the tournament has ended.

At the start of quiz #1, everyone (usually) is a bundle of nerves. Their lights flicker on and off, and many can barely keep their legs from shaking. Finally,the Quiz Master calls for prayer, this reminds the quizzers to breathe and relax. Some might feel that Quizzing is the only completely fair competition, because all the teams are praying to God asking for their effort to be rewarded in His name. The playing fields are then made even.
The first question brings everyone to attention; and silence is the only word to describe the audience. Not a peep— not a sound—is made. A collective holding of breath,as if a single exhalation will disturb the focus of the quizzers on the seats. The Quiz Master sets the box, and begins to read his question. The quizzers’anxiety appears to lessen with the familiarity of it all.

For the rest of Friday night the competition gets rougher and rougher, until at last they are permitted to rest until Saturday morning. Saturday morning those who are morning people are clearly distinguished from the night owls. You see either the grumpier side of your new friends, or the happier side. Most are still tired from the night of quizzing before, but regardless, all are prepared for the long day of quizzing before them.
After eating a delectable breakfast (made by the hands of the women of Pleasant View Baptist Church), the groups, as a whole, walk over to the tabernacle for an early morning message. It is a pavilion with a simple roof and support pillars, making you able to observe the beauty of the early morning while you listen to the message. From the dew, to the sunshine, to the trees, to the singing, you can clearly feel God’s presence among the congregation. This service is a time to reflect on the true reason to study before the competition begins.

When the time for quizzing arrives, everyone is ready. The months of preparation have been completed and now it is time to see who will be declared the winner. After the two warm-up quizzes, the elimination rounds begin. They are the gauntlet of quizzing, the pressure cooker, and the battleground. Slowly the teams fall out, disappointed yet determined to come back fighting at the next tournament.

Then the finals start. The quizzers are weary,and downtrodden, and half just want to be finished. Their minds have been stretched the fullest capacity, and their mental strength is waning. This is what separates the winners from the losers—their ability to hold on for one more quiz. The audience has grown steadily larger, the cheers for each correctly answered question grow steadily louder and the stakes grow steadily higher. No one is willing to go down without a fight,but all know that someone is going to lose.

Many fervent prayers are prayed, many pleading for victory, many begging for the opportunity to represent God as the victor. The coaches try to remain in control of their nervousness, if only for the sakes of their teams. They take down the scores and try to keep their shaking from showing too much in their writing. The quizzers breathe— anything to calm themselves. The Quiz Master sets the box, adding a quick joke to lessen the tension, and then he begins the quiz.

It comes down to the final question, and the score is tied. A hasty quizzer fires out of his chair,getting nothing. The Quiz Master looks up, and calls on the premature jumper. 10… 9… the quizzer rushes through his head thinking of anything and everything he knows is not the answer. 8…7… Please God, just show me the chapter. 6… 5… I cannot believe I jumped. 4…3… Wait a second; is this the answer? 2… The quizzer blurts out an answer and sits down, just before the buzzer goes off.

The Quiz Master lifts his eyes up. One can only imagine what is going through his head. He waits for a moment, torturing the quizzers by his silence. Then he utters a single word, “Incorrect”. The crowd gasps; a tidal wave of disappointment floods over the room. The ruling is final, and the quizzer who jumped slumps in ruin. Words pour through his mind; he is wondering why he put all the months of hard work in only to lose. What was the point? Why do I try?
The opposing team waits for the question, and answers it with complete ease and elation. Their joy torments the other team, who are now on the verge of weeping. Any hope they had at victory has been crushed. They feel the loss more deeply than those who were eliminated earlier in the day, because they have come so close, only to fall short on the final question.

The one who feels the lowest on the losing team is the one who jumped and answered incorrectly. He let his team down, he jumped too fast, it would have been better if he was not on the seats. His teammates battle the bitterness welling inside of themselves against him. They are angry; why did he jump? Why couldn’t he have waited a second more? He ruined our shot at winning. It was all his fault. But even as they think these thoughts,they know they are wrong. Their errors prior in the day come back and haunt them. Every dumb mistake they have made throughout their quizzing careers reminds them that they, too, hold some of the blame.

But the thing that brings them to their knees in forgiveness, is the reason why their study has been so important. All of the verses put into their minds, in this moment, are being tested. God is testing their character and stretching it— these are the times when their understanding and obedience of these verses is truly shown.

“But if any have caused grief… sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you whether ye be obedient in all things.” – 2nd Corinthians 2:5-9
Now is the time when the people watching them will know whether or not they have the Word of God written on their hearts as well as memorized in their minds. Now is the time when their character will be shown. This is more important that receiving a temporary reward. This is a lesson that, once learned, will never be forgotten. This is the lesson that Bible Quizzing teaches.

It is more than just a game.

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