Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pressure to Conform

When you decide to do something no one else is willing to do -- when you decide to step up and face a giant that everyone else is hiding from -- you need a brave heart. And that heart doesn't just develop out of thin air. It is forged in the heat of everyday obstacles and challenges. In the mundane, daily grind of life is where character is developed, and if you haven't shown a courageous willingness to face down the lions and bears in your normal life, you won't have the strength to step up and face down a giant like Goliath.

When you do finally step out of the crowd and choose to face Goliath, you're going to encounter opposition and unfair criticism. Be prepared for that. But there's something else you're likely to encounter: pressure to conform.

For David -- who is apparently too young to join the army but old enough to be trusted to run errands on his own -- this pressure to conform comes from King Saul. First, Saul tries to talk David out of taking on the giant, but David succeeds in persuading Saul to allow him. It's probably a sign of just how desperate Saul had become that he would even listen to a young boy. But Saul does not trust God to work independently of the latest technology:

"Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge. David told Saul, 'I can't even move with all this stuff on me. I'm not used to this.' And he took it all off."

Turns out, the armor didn't fit. Saul was a 52L; David was a 36S. Saul was a man; David was a boy. Saul was a seasoned veteran; David was a rookie. Saul was the Commander in Chief; David was too young to join the army. Saul was the King; David was a loyal subject.

Think about this: David could have said, "Okay, you've been there and done that. You must know more about this than I do. I'll wear it."

But David knew that when he stood facing the giant, it was going to be his hide on the line -- not Saul's. Here's an important lesson: when you face Goliath, it's you. It's not your parents, your friends, your pastor, your teacher, your spouse. It's you. And you are no one's mini-me.

That's what Saul was trying to create: a mini-me of himself. But you can't fight Goliath wearing someone else's armor.

Sometimes we want other people to make our decisions for us -- to choose our weapons and decide what giants we should face and how. Usually the reason we want that is so we can have someone to blame if things don't work out well. But nobody can choose your weapons for you. These are your gifts, your kids, your time, your possessions, your mind, your calling. And on the last day, it's you who will stand before God and answer this question: What did you do with all that stuff I gave you?

No one is going to answer that question for you.

Our world is going to put pressure on you -- pressure to do only certain things and to do them in only certain ways. "You're going out to face Goliath? No, you don't want to do that. Oh, you really do? Well, put this stuff on. I know it doesn't fit and will probably get you killed, but that's what you get for going out against Goliath in the first place. It's a hopeless cause to begin with, but at least this way it won't hurt as bad. Maybe you'll get in a couple of good shots."

Don't you give in to them. Don't let them conform you to the pattern of this world. Withstand that pressure and fight with what God's put in your hands. Fight with the weapons you know.