When I was eight years old, my family moved from the beautiful state of Alaska to sunny California. I traded an isolated existence (we lived fifty miles from the nearest town) for an atmosphere teeming with human beings, automobiles and television sets. Simply stated, I was overwhelmed and afraid. We went from never locking our doors, to keeping them locked all day, every day. Cars raced up and down our road all hours of the day and night and I was inundated with news stories of people being robbed and murdered. Fear became my constant companion.
The ugly monster of fear was especially scary in the small hours of the night. I would lay awake terrified someone was going to murder us all in our beds. Every little noise sent panic coursing through my body, my heart would pound and I would hold my breath hardly daring to breathe. Night after night this monster relentlessly pursued me.
I recently came across a verse I was encouraged to say when I was in this dark place, and the memories of this fear-ridden time in my life came rushing back . . .
I would lay in my bed, frozen with fear, reciting this verse, over and over, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” Psalm 56.3 (I learned it in the King James Version. I often wonder now what God must have thought as he listened to an eight year old little girl saying “Thee”. I hope it made Him smile.)
Reciting this verse, no matter how many times I said it, never really seemed to do any good. I was still absolutely and completely terrified.
As an adult now, looking back on this time in my childhood, I understand now why the recitation didn’t work. God didn’t design His Word to be quoted over and over again, like magic words that will open a hidden door. It was given so that we might let its truth sink deep into our souls and change us from the inside out. His Word is not a rabbit’s foot or a magic wand. It is has power only when we let it change us.
God’s Word was given for transformation not mindless recitation.
Letting Scripture change our heart and mind, takes determination and grit. It takes intentionality and fortitude as we allow it to point out our flaws, shine light on the hidden places of our soul, and reveal the fragility of our faith.
Endlessly repeating words, even God’s Words, will never accomplish what putting into practice, living out and embracing His Truth will do.