"All of our experiences, good and bad, are part of who we are. God is continually forming us and shaping us for the purpose he has given us."
David and Goliath
David cried out, "Who is this uncircumcised Philstine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
David was just a boy. He was not yet old enough to fight alongside his brothers. Instead he was there to bring food and tend to their weapons. Even so, his words stung the pride of his brothers and they questioned his motives for being there. Goliath was twice the size of any Israelite shoulder. And so, no one was brave enough to accept the challenge to single combat.
But David did not waver. He went to King Saul offering to champion Israel against the giant. Saul accepted David's offer. Perhaps the king was impressed with David's conviction. Or maybe Saul trusted in the power of God. Whatever the reason, David walked out into the shallow river valley, alone, to face the giant. His only weapon was a sling and a few stones. But again David showed his fearlessness in confronting this massive foe.
"You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and he will give you into our hand."
Even if most people forget the details, almost everyone remembers the outcome. David kills Goliath. A single stone, shot from his sling, buried itself deep in Goliath's forehead.
It was an amazing victory, but it was not magic. God's grace prepared David for that critical moment. We know this because what is often overlooked is the fact that King Saul took some convincing. He was not eager to send a young untrained boy to die at the hand of the Philistine champion.
Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth."
But David responded, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and smote him and delivered it out of his mouth; and if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him and killed him. Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
God Prepares Us For Our Work
David explained that, because he was the youngest son of the family it was his job to trend the family's flock of sheep. He wandered through the wilderness with the flock, enduring cold nights and hot days. David could not run for help when wild animals attacked his sheep. He had to fight them off alone. It was just through such experiences, that God prepared David for his mission.
There is a famous quote by Saint Augustine, “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new.” Taken by itself it seems to be a lament for lost time. But read the passage from Augustine's confessions, in which the quote appears.
“Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you. And see, you were within and I was in the external world and sought you there, and in my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The lovely things kept me far from you, though if they did not have their existence in you, they had no existence at all. You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”
Rather than regretting lost time it is an acknowledgement that God was always with him, even when he was not with God. God wastes nothing. All of our experiences, good and bad, are part of who we are. God is continually forming us and shaping us for the purpose he has given us.
God is behind every hardship and difficulty. Through them, He teaches us and disciplines our souls. God trains us to love and serve him better and better. Every difficulty we encounter in our lives, is either sent by God or permitted by Him for our benefit.
We are a fallen people. And we live in a fallen world. Man is wounded by original sin, and that wound makes us spiritual cripples. We forget that we are created to know and experience wisdom, joy, and God's love.
Christ has redeemed us. His sacrifice has healed our wounds. But now, by allowing us to know hardship, He retrains us. And that training takes discipline - trials and hardships. It takes going through the "narrow gate."
Nothing is outside of God's wise and loving plan for our salvation. And the main focus of that plan is to restore us to the fullness of life that sin has disrupted.
But how often do we forget this simple lesson?
21stSunday in Ordinary Time
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com