There are some amazing stories in Scripture isn't there? We talk about having "faith in the field" and moving forward with God into the areas He is calling us. To stand up with confidence and to be the man He created us to be is the goal, yet so often confidence is replaced by doubt. And standing up and being God's man, moving into situations He is calling us to gets replaced by a kind of paralysis or passivity.
I've been reading 1st Samuel lately and I was struck again by the story of David and Goliath. I know it is a really popular story and we've all heard it since we were little in Sunday school. And for me at least, I've grown numb to the power of that story. But think of it, a huge man, a warrior....over nine feet tall and probably built like an NFL left tackle. The entire army of Israel was afraid of him. The Bible says they were dismayed and terrified. For forty days morning and night Goliath stepped out and shouted a challenge to the army of Israel to send a man out to fight him. And the Bible says that the Israelites, warriors themselves, ran from Goliath in great fear.
Can you imagine? But then David comes along. He is visiting the army because his three brothers are in the ranks and his father sent him out to bring some roasted grain, some bread and some cheese to his brothers and their buddies. Isn't that nice? What a sweet young lad. A teenager who probably was just sprouting his first tender whiskers. He hears Goliath's challenge, and he says, "Who does this uncircumcised shmuck think he is challenging the armies of the living God?" What a fresh perspective after 40 days of fear. David asks a few more questions and upsets his brothers a little. They call him a few hurtful names like "conceited" and tell him he has a "wicked heart",then they tell him to buzz off and get back to tending his sheep. But word gets back to Saul and he calls for David. I assume they chat for a bit and then David makes a bold statement. He tells Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; I will go and fight him."
Time out. Where did this courage come from? Is David just a wild teenager with no fear of death? Is he stupid? Does he have a death wish? Maybe he is suicidal. Perhaps he ate some of the grain along the journey and it was fermented pretty badly. Was he puffing on a crack pipe?
Or did he know and trust God's heart. We know David was a shepherd boy. An outdoorsman who spent nights in the wild. We know he talked with God and had a deep relationship with Him. Remember all of the Psalms he wrote? He loved God. He walked with God. He was poetic in his love for God. He played the harp for goodness sake! How did David get to this point in his relationship with God?
I think he gained that type of relationship with God by being in the wild... alone. He talked with God. God answered him. He was tested in the wild and God came through for him. Remember the bear and lion that he killed protecting his fathers sheep? When he was thirsty he had to find water, when he was hungry he had to find food and God came through for him. He trusted in God because he had to. And he praised God for everything he got. And God blessed him.
And so I got to thinking about my time outdoors. So often I'm so busy pursuing fish or pursuing game that I forget why I really enjoy my time in the wild. It is the pursuit of God that I am really longing for. And I'm sorry, but I don't get that at home on the couch. Or even in the back yard. God created a perfect classroom in which to teach a man and that classroom is in the wild. And when I think of all the times that God has come for my heart in the outdoors I realize why I truly prize my time there.
He has spoken words to me out there that I've really needed to hear. I've felt his love for me out there like I've never felt before. I've seen his hand of protection over and over. I've been lost, I've sunk a drift boat and I've been out on some pretty rough seas. I learned to trust him out there. I've learned that I have what it takes to pack out an elk in the dark when my body was past exhaustion. I've felt the joy of leading others, guiding them into their first fish or their first deer. It was thrilling and then God said, "I have more for you. How much more of a thrill to help lead and guide someone to me."
Right now God is calling me to help get a program started in our area to mentor fatherless boys in the outdoors and also to introduce them to God as the perfect Father who will never abandon them. It feels like the deck is stacked against it. I feel some fear that I don't have what it takes to get it done. This will end up being like the other things I've felt God probing me to do that never seem to fully work out. I feel like I am pretty alone in my passion for this. It has been difficult so far.
But I read a story like David and Goliath and I reflect on what I've shared above and it feels silly really. I mean my life is not in danger here. But I'm struck by just how small my faith in God can feel at times.
So hear is the deal. I'm going to pick out a few smooth stones and I'm going to head out where God is leading. And as always, we could use your prayers going forward.