• Tammy Davis

Sword Drills and The Devil

If you grew up Baptist, you know all about sword drills. At my church in Bishopville, it went like this: the Sunday school teacher called out a Bible verse, and the kids raced to see who could find the verse the fastest. We all started with our Bibles turned spine down, ready for fast flipping. Some kids kept their thumbs on the Old and New Testament, but I kept mine on Psalms and Proverbs, the half way point of my Bible. We complained if anyone used a Bible with tabs or indentions. I won’t name any names because this is a serious accusation, but some kids were said to keep cheat sheets inside their Bibles. One year, the competition was so fierce, we used the Bibles from the sanctuary, so nobody would have an unfair advantage. We held the Bibles upside down and shook them thoroughly to make sure there were no slips of paper placed in strategic spots. Bishopville Baptists were serious about sword drills.

I’ll never forget the year I won the overall championship held during Vacation Bible School out at the Denny Pond. The winning verse was 1 Peter 5:8. Since I was the first to find it, I had to read it out loud in front of everyone. That verse describes the devil as the enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” It scared me to death.

I remember telling my mama that I didn’t like that verse. She told me I was silly. She said I couldn’t pick and choose which verses I liked and which ones I didn’t. Then she said something that really spooked me. According to my mother, if you believed in God, you had to believe in the devil. I didn’t like that one bit. Thank goodness she went on to assure me that our God was bigger and stronger than all evil. That made me feel better.

I didn’t want to think about the devil as a child, and I wish I did not have to think of evil now, but as I watch the struggles happening across our country, I know hatred is alive and well.

Not too long ago, I went back to the verse that scared me as a child, but this time I continued reading. The following verse tells me to “resist the enemy and stand firm in my faith.” That’s what I’m trying to do.

Old man devil is having a big time right now devouring America in front of our very eyes. The feeling I have now is not that different from the feeling I had when I was a little girl. 2020 has been a scary year. We’re all scared, adults and children alike. But I’m trying to focus on the comforting message found in verse 9, not the scary description in verse 8. I’m trying to resist evil and stand firm in my faith. I don’t want to stay in a place of fear. I want to be a verse 9 kind of person. Now, more than ever, I have to believe that love is stronger than hate.

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