As a child, I was forced to memorize verses, like most kids in Sunday School. Earning cheap gold star stickers didn’t make me more enthusiastic about it. By Monday, I couldn’t remember the verse I’d quoted anyway. So for years I rolled my eyes when anyone would try to convince me of the importance of memorizing scripture. And matching the verse to its address? Forget it. Who besides preachers can remember all those numbers anyway? What was the point unless I, too, was up there sermoning away? Uh, no way.
It wasn’t until I did the study for Breaking Free that I understood the value in this practice. Beth Moore said speaking God’s word is like firing bullets at the bad guy. That’s a bad paraphrase and an extreme summary. She instructed us to memorize our bullets, so we never do life unarmed. She’s from Texas, where I was born into a hunting family, so I speak that language and jive with the comparison. It all clicked. Oh! The verses are tools to be used, not to show off in Sunday School.
Of course, verses aren’t magic spells. There’s a deal of faith involved, owning the promise and believing that God will do what he says he will do. Then resting in that promise, waiting and watching.
There are times when attack comes so suddenly and out of nowhere that it blindsides me for a while. For a few days I will chalk it up to hormones or depression, then I get smart. I had a vulnerable moment, and the Enemy pounced. These feelings, these lies I keep telling myself — that I’m not good enough, that I’m worthless, that God is so disappointed in me, that I should never leave the house again, that I should just lay down and die? They are oppression from the oppressor. They are meant to destroy me. They deserve a bullet. Sometimes fired repeatedly.
My favorite bullet for times of oppression comes from Isaiah. I still don’t know the numbers of its address, so I had to look it up. Turns out it’s Isaiah 41:12-13:
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
I repeat this to myself over and over again, until I’m convinced yet again that it’s true. God comes for me when I’m in trouble. It might take a few days, sometimes it’s within the hour, but the lifting of the oppression is usually sudden and palpable. It’s not a magic spell. It’s believing God and letting him fight for me. It’s about trust and release. And it’s hard to remember to do. I don’t want to quote scripture when all I really want to do is curl up in a ball and sob. I don’t want to own this promise again. I want the oppression to go away for ever! Yet here it is, ruining another day. Just give up. Lay down and die. You are such a disappointment.
Those who wage war against you will come to nothing. I am God, who fights for you. Don’t be afraid. I am helping you. Get up, keep going, keep breathing. I love you.