Sunday, August 9, 2009

Facing the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant

"A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall." - I Samuel 17:4

We all know the story of David. He's the kid that was in the field tending sheep that was anointed to be king.... In I Samuel 17, we read of a story from David's life, when he was faced with challenges.

At the time that this particular story in David's life took place, Saul, Israel's first king was still on the throne. Saul and the Israelites were at war with the Philistines.

David's dad, Jesse, had eight sons. David was somewhere in the middle of the lineup of the siblings. He had three older brothers and four younger brothers. The three oldest brothers were following Saul and were hanging out with the rest of the Israeli army. David had been spending his time caring for his father's sheep and had been going back and forth between the sheep pen and taking messages and food to his brothers.

The two parties at war were on opposite hills from one another, with a valley in between them.

One particular day, Jesse sent David to his brothers, to take them some food.... When David made it to the hillside, he found Goliath, a giant of a man taunting the Israelites. This obnoxious bully was yelling across to the Israelites day and night... He was challenging the Israelites to a battle. This would be a winner takes all battle. The loser would have to bow to their enemy. And this had been going on for forty days! No one would dare step up to face the giant.

Imagine what our hero, the teenager David thought when he heard the giant taunting the Israelites.... If he was like a lot of teenagers that I have known over the years, he could have had a little bit of cockiness about him. Or maybe he was a little naiive. Whatever his emotional state, he couldn't believe his ears! He was going to stand up for the God of Israel. And he was not going to stand for this smart-mouthed bully.

Can you imagine what the crowd around him thought when he said, "I can take him"? His brothers pretty much thought he was crazy! They tried to talk him out of it. Saul even tried to give him his armor and his sword. But it was too big. I can imagine that it probably looked like a little kid playing dress up or something. So David just used what he knew best.

Here was this kid who was going to take on this beast.... Now, granted, David was accustomed to fighting lions and bears off from the sheep pen, but this guy was over nine feet tall! The tip alone of his spear weighed 5000 shekels. I am sure that David probably looked like (and felt like) the little green sprout in comparison! Goliath was HUGE!

Can you say "overwhelmed" ??? This was a GOD-sized problem David had here. And it required a GOD-sized faith. If he failed, the Israelites would have had to submit to the Philistines. I am betting that the entire crowd could hear David's knees knocking!

But David knew God was with him, and told the big bully as much. And that in no uncertain terms, he was going down... pretty much because God was gonna take him down.

We know the rest of the story.... David picked up five smooth stones, grabbed a slingshot and planted one right between Goliath's eyes! In one shot, the gargantuan beast fell to the ground. The crowds roared and little David became an instant hero!

We all face giants of one kind or another in our lives. I know that I have faced plenty of them in my lifetime. And I have a few on my plate right now. Chances are that you do, too.

Make a mental list of the giants that are in your way right now. You make yours. I'll make mine. Got your list? Good!

Now. How do you and I act when we are faced with something much bigger than us??? Or do we react??? What happens when there is a GOD-sized challenge before us??? Do we remember to Whom we belong and trust Him to face the challenge/fell the giant? Or do we automatically cower in defeat?

It's easier to let the circumstances of our lives and our own self-sufficiency to dictate whether we can follow God, isn't it? (Case in point: Ever let the things you have in your hand dictate whether you can obey God? What about the clock? Or your calendar? Your checkbook?) It's easier to bow to the idea that something God has put in front of us that may be bigger than us is better left undone than calling on the One to help you Who called you in the first place.

The sad truth is, most of the time, we'd rather back down from the fight with the giant than to consider that God may actually have something far greater than we ever asked or even imagined in store for us, if we'd just obey Him. We respond to His challenges with, "This just isn't doable, God. I can't."

And God simply answers with, "You're right. You can't. But I can."

Our God is a God Who majors in the impossible! He is a God Who is bigger than any circumstance that you or I may have. He is fully capable of equipping those whom He has called to the purposes for which they were called. He felled David's giant. And He can certainly knock down yours and mine, too.

Remember this old chorus by Don Moen?

God will make a way
When there seems to be no way
He works in ways
We cannot see
He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way.

God will make a way.

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