Have you ever felt more than a little overwhelmed by a situation that is suddenly thrust upon you? A situation that may involve some looming threat or expansive opportunity. A few days ago, the varsity basketball team that my two sons play on got the chance of a lifetime to play on New Year’s Eve at Rocket Mortgage Field House, the home floor of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The coach asked me to share a devotional with a bit of the Hoosiers movie throwback feel to it (same text read before the final game in the true life movie classic). Here are the thoughts that I shared before a group of young men a bit, at the time, overwhelmed with the big opponents and a big place before them…the same look I often see in my face and likely yours as well:
Text: 1 Samuel 17:48-52
As a reminder, the giant that David faced cast a rather larger shadow to say the least. One commentator quantifies him as follows: “This giant was about nine feet nine inches tall and wore at least 175 pounds of armor. His iron spearhead alone weighed over fifteen pounds. The heavy weapons were no problem for Goliath, since he himself must have weighed somewhere between 600 and 750 pounds (possibly more, depending on his build). This gave him many times the strength of a normal man.” Wow, that’s a big man. A bigger-than-David-you-and-me threat.
Okay, now the quick takeaways that I shared not only over the din of a humming pro arena but the noisy giants that you may be facing today:
Don’t worry about being flashy in this fight; work within the FUNDAMENTAL giftings and callings that you KNOW.
1 Sa 17:39-40 “And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
1 Sa 17:47 “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.
Earlier, David does not say that he cannot wear Saul’s armor because it is too big, but rather because he is unaccustomed to it. And so, armed with sling and stones, David and God went out to fight the Philistine and his armor-bearer. A slingshot and some stones that are WELL-USED BY AN “UPSTART” accomplish much more than sophisticated weaponry HANGING UNUSED IN THE TENT OF THE ONE WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN LEADING! The people of God have no excuse to not know who their enemies are and the weaponry God had carefully given to conquer them. Take on the battle in your heart, mind, home, and our world with boldness!
Don’t worry about looking good, focus upon honoring God with your faith-filled EFFORT AND ATTITUDE.
1 Sa 17:46 “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
David figured, if God can win any battle, then let’s spend our time, not talking about what happens IF WE LOSE but WHEN WE WIN…especially if we are the ones on the FRONTLINES. There are greater things to lose than just the negatives; fear of the what-if’s can rob us of losing the positives that the glory of God and His people could experience! Would you shift your focus to that of a David-imitating optimism that is typically in the minority of even “God’s army.”
Don’t worry about what the other team/fans think or don’t think of you; focus upon setting a good example for your other teammates who are likely more than a bit intimidated by this moment.
1 Sa 17:51-52a “Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron.
As one author put it, “There is a rarified few who have put not only skin, but soul in the game. These are they who take risks, accept potential harm and hardship, and invest themselves in something not only for their own sake, but on behalf of others. These are the folks who make up the heroic class.” What happens when we truly have “skin in not just the game but the battle”-God gives us FLESH AND BLOOD—TANGIBLE TROPHIES OF HIS POWER FOR THE BENEFIT OF HIS PEOPLE who are othewise keeping their heads down when they should be standing up! David held up the ultimate trophy of God’s power-the gory head of Israel’s once larger than life but now-deceased enemy! This caused the courage of God’s people to surge. How we handle the moment that feels so much bigger than self will largely determine the ultimate response of others.
How did the trip to the Cavs’ arena end? We lost. Lost in a game that God likely did not “pick a side.” We lost by quite a bit, but my prayer is that those young men include my two sons, myself, and you learn the lessons that are bigger than an old school movie or a little Christian school taking on a big public high school. Nassim Taleb reminds as we stand in those moments, “A half-man…is not someone who does not have an opinion, just someone who does not take risks for it.” I choose to be of the opinion that, at any moment including that ones that feel way too big for us, are never too big for our God! Are you?