Friday, July 15, 2005

Everyday Challenges

David actually wants to fight Goliath. And I think everyone reading this wants to face gigantic problems with that kind of courage -- the kind that says, "Let me at it! I'll tear it apart! I can't wait to defeat this giant!" But few of us actually respond that way.

Part of what we're noticing here is that if we wait until the giant calls us out, we're sunk. Courage like that is developed intentionally over time.

David wants to fight Goliath, but everyone -- including the commander of the armies (King Saul) tries to talk him out of it. So, David has to talk Saul into letting him go and fight this battle (this battle, by the way, that Saul himself should have fought). Here's what David says:

"I have been taking care of my father's sheep," he said. "When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears [oh my!], and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!"

David has actually prepared himself for battling Goliath by dealing with hard things that came up in his everyday life. Imagine you're David. You're 11 or 12 years old, and you're out watching your father's sheep. No one notices you. You don't get called in when the prophet Samuel comes to your town looking for the new king. You're doing grunt work that no one else wants to do.

And all of a sudden a bear comes walking out of the woods and grabs one of your sheep.

Quick: What do you do? If it's me, I run. They're not even my sheep. They're my father's sheep. And when he dies, they're going to become my older brother's sheep (and he's kind of a jerk). First of all, no one's going to know if you run. Second of all, if anyone did find out, they're not going to blame you. You're a kid with a stick. That's a bear. Apparently, a hungry bear.

But David stayed and fought and learned something. But notice this: he does not say, "I learned that killing bears is easier than you'd think." Neither does he say, "I learned that I'm a pretty good bear killer. I'm thinking of taking it up as a career." He says, "God delivered me then, and he'll deliver me now."

Here's the truth: You can hear that God is faithful a thousand times. You can read that God is faithful in a hundred books. But you will never believe it until it happens to you. You may know that God is faithful like you know that there is no gravity in outer space. But it will not be a reality deep down in the marrow of your bones until you put your life on the line and say, "God if you don't deliver here, I have no plan B." Until you test it out with your own life, you'll never really know how faithful God is.

Think of your little flock. Is it your family? Your small group? A team of people at work? A project you've been assigned? Whatever it is, rest assured there will be lions and bears (oh my!) that come out and attack. It will happen early and often.

You could avoid it. You could run away. Maybe no one would know. If they did, who would blame you? It's a lion or a bear, and what are you? You could run away. You could avoid confrontation? You could procrastinate and say, "Maybe it'll get better by itself."

Or you could say, "God, with your help, I'm going after that bear."

In everyday moments when no one is watching -- in unglamorous jobs that no one else wants to do -- it's in those days when boldness is built. If you run, you'll lose heart, and it'll be a little easier to run the next time. If you face it (even if it doesn't turn out well), you'll become a little more courageous, and the next challenge won't seem as scary.