Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Go David! Go David! Go David!

For those who are just tuning in to this series, that would be David of David and Goliath fame. Go back and read the previous two posts to catch up if you need to. I'm moving on.

Who doesn't root for the underdog? From what I've witnessed, often in today's world, it's a team that's facing a team that's bigger and on a winning streak. Team Underdog is a long shot, at best. From all outward appearances they just don't stand a chance up against Team Hotdog. But the game is scheduled and they must show up and play. Will they play like they've already lost and ensure their defeat? Will they give it their all whether they win or lose? Will they play like winners and, somehow, pull out a victory? Only time on the clock will tell. But let's face it, even if Team Hotdog is your team...don't you secretly go "rah!" when the underdog makes a good play or scores? It's OK, I won't tell anybody. I do it, too.

In the David and Goliath story, we have an individual, not a team, who is the underdog. But when we first approach the story, we don't know it. It, like life, begins nice enough for David. We're introduced to Goliath and the Philistine army first. We get it. They're big, mean, vicious, itching to fight. Goliath keeps throwing down to the Israelite army. The problem is, none of them are picking up the gauntlet.

Enter David stage right. Sweet kid. Youngest of eight boys. Stays home with Dad to tend the sheep. His three oldest brothers are in the army. Runs back and forth between home/sheep and his soldier-brothers taking them supplies. Good kid. Keep in mind, though, he's a tough kid even though the story doesn't explicitly tell us. It tells us he helped his father with the sheep. That little fact is important. (Remember. When we are given details, they are important even when we have to read between the lines. Like here. We are expected to know what "helping with the sheep" entails and implies).

On this particular day, David is being an obedient son and taking bread to his brothers and cheese to their captain. I'm sure he plans to visit and watch the action because his dad is expecting a report from him. THIS is how David plans to spend his day. THIS is David's plan. Can we say, "Goliath, WHO?"

That's how things in our life can happen. We're sailing along. We've got life mapped out, our plans made. And. Boom. We run smack-dab up against Goliath. Maybe he was there all along but we could ignore him because he either wasn't acting up or wasn't out of control and we could manage him.

David is confronted with Goliath out of the blue. Here's where we begin getting principles, based on David in this story, on dealing with our own huge obstacles in life.

David may not have known he was going to face Goliath, but God did. And God knows about the obstacles we'll face. David already had what he needed, with him, to face Goliath. And, chances do too. You're probably already equipped with what you need to tackle your obstacles and bring them down to size, or totally obliterate them. You just don't know it yet. Or you may need to reframe them. That's what David had to do.

Once David decides to do what a whole army won't do...confront Goliath, two things happen. King Saul gives David armor and a sword...all of which David puts on and promptly takes off.

1) He sheds the things that weigh him down.

Then he takes 5 smooth stones and puts them in his own bag and picks up his own shepherd's staff and slingshot.

2) He uses the weapons that are already in his arsenal (his staff and slingshot), and he gathers weapons that he already knows how to use (stones) and puts them in his bag.

Now, and only now, is he ready to square off against this huge obstacle that's towering over him and wants to kill him.

The stakes are high, as they always are. The loser not only dies, but his people will become the slaves of the winning side. The obstacle is threatening and menacing. It can make us feel like nothing. It can make us think, maybe, God has abandoned me, won't come to my aid, will let this obstacle ruin my life. It can weigh us down with depression and fear, doubt and confusion. It gets in our way and colors how we perceive everyone and everything around us.

We can even forget the stones in our bag. It's time to shed some weight and reframe our stones.

Often one catastrophe will lead to other problems and issues. A major illness can lead to loss of job and insurance, mounting bills and eventual homelessness. A major downturn in the economy can lead to job loss, not finding another one, and the bills and homelessness. In these, and other, scenarios, relationships can suffer, marriages can end, drinking can start or increase and so can drug usage. Alcoholism and addiction can become huge and damaging challenges. There are a multitude of problems that can arise and they will look different for everybody. The thing they have in common, besides being depressing, is they weigh us down to the point that we don't know how to look up, don't know where to go for help, can doubt if help is even out there for us.

That's how this series started...helping someone who was weighed down by so much that he lost sight of the fact his obstacles were temporary and forgot about the stones he had to work with. His stones needed reframing so he could see them in a new light. And while his obstacles may be long-term, they can be dealt with, brought down to size, some can be obliterated, and they are all temporary. None will last for all eternity.

As we reframed his stones, he could already feel a sense of hope coming on and he had not felt hope for a long time.

Some possible stones you may already have in your bag that need to be brought out, dusted off, and put to use: Your education. Do you have a college degree? (My friend has a 4-year degree and had previously used it well in one type of business, but after the economy hit his field hard and his company closed, he lost sight of using his degree in other types of businesses). Work experience? Connections? (We all know people and we all know people who know people. Networking is  valuable tool). Knowledge of a different field that can be of value to an employer? (David was a shepherd, but he had acquired experience taking care of, and protecting, his sheep that he could use against Goliath). Can you let go of finding that new dream job in the area and field of YOUR choice and be willing to move, or be willing to take a job that at one time you may have considered "beneath you" or "not anything you're interested in"? Can you swallow pride? Ask for forgiveness? Knock on some doors? Pray? Locate people who are willing to give others (you) a second or third chance...these people exist...ask around, they are usually known and word of mouth is a great tool.

What other tools are in your belt? Personality? Perseverance? Skill that's employable? Access to good, yet cheap or free, counseling? If illness is an issue, are you near a great hospital with a wonderful charity-care program? If you don't know, ask. There's help available for dealing with depression and support groups for various problems and challenges. If you need AA or NA (Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) check to see what's in your area. All of these things, and more, are tools God has placed at your disposal. Find them and make good use of them. And watch your obstacle(s) start coming down. And feel the weight lifting off your shoulders.

David was young, out there by himself, nobody with him had any faith in him, and Goliath was in his space and had to be dealt with. By him. God had brought him to this place.

And David learned that with God on his side he could face any Goliath that stood in his way and he could trust God for the outcome.

Nobody on that battlefield thought David stood a chance. But David did. He believed in himself. He knew what he needed and he knew what he didn't need to get the job done. He knew Goliath had to go and he knew he was the guy for the task at hand. This young guy was the manliest man around that day. He was also the only one around with any faith. Was it the size of a mustard seed or the size of a mountain? Who knows? He had faith and God honored it.

But David had to step out in it. He had to face Goliath. He had to take stone and sling in hand and use them. David showed up. And so did God. Mightily.

When obstacles arise in our lives and loom large over us, chances are very good that if we take stock of the people, skills, and other opportunities and life-experiences that God has already blessed us with, that we'll see we have what we need to do battle.

David's Goliath was human and able to be knocked down where he could kill him with one well-placed stone to the forehead. Our obstacles probably won't fall that quickly and easily. It may take a while. So keep taking stock of your stones. Keep stepping out in faith. Keep calling on God and trusting in His provision. Know that you have an army, somewhere, watching and waiting for you to act and they'll fall in line and work with you.

Take heart, hold on to hope, and remember David's words to Goliath, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17: 45b-47 New Living Translation)

What you're facing is an obstacle, it's not an obstacle for God. You are His child and this is His battle. He has called you to join Him on the battlefield and He has given you what you need. Use it. Keep your eyes and heart focused on the Lord of Heaven's Armies and know that your obstacle is coming down. 

God always wins.


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