Friday, January 27, 2012

As Then . . . So Again

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion . . . will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

We imagine David as vulnerable and poorly armed for battle. We are wrong.

He had been offered the King’s armor. He had even tried to wear the “helmet of bronze and the coat of mail.” He had strapped on the King’s sword – and the weight of all that strength was paralyzing to David. He could barely move. He laid all of that aside and took up the weapon he knew best – a sling.

This is God’s way. What looks to us like pathetic weakness is actually power in God’s hand.

But David stepped into the valley that day armed with something that no one there could see, certainly not Goliath and not even Saul. It was not weapon that could be held in the hand or placed on the head or draped over the body.

Perhaps David’s most formidable weapons that day were stories and memories: stories and memories of God’s help, God’s deliverance, God’s presence in trouble, God’s power in the face of threat. David had lived this. David had seen this. And it made him confident. These stories had made a giant killer of a shepherd boy.

This is no mere belief in God. When it’s time to face a giant it simply will not do to say “I believe in God.” Killing giants requires more than the kind of agreeable mental assent we often label as ‘belief.’ Those who kill giants have stories to tell. They have seen God at work. They know what Go can do. They are utterly convinced that God is able. And for this reason they are dangerous.

David had field experience . . . literally. In the remote regions where shepherds dwell David had faced enemies. When beasts came to prey on the flock under his care, David had gone at them aggressively. And time and time again God had delivered. Every such story was a weapon in David’s soul.

As then . . . so again. What God did once God will do now. David knew this. Do you?

Throughout the Bible this is God’s way with us. When Joshua was called upon to take the place of Moses God encouraged him with this promise: “As I was with Moses so I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5). As then . . . so again.

When the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and worried about the fact that they had forgotten to bring bread, Jesus reminded them of how he had fed thousands with meager provisions and how they had gathered days worth of leftovers (Mark 8:14-21). Why worry about bread? As then . . . so again.

So what stories do you tell? When and how have you seen God unmistakably at work in your life? When have you known his presence as close to you as your own breath? When have you sensed his peace taking up residence deep in your chest? Be specific – and remember. Tell yourself and others this story. Rehearse it. It will make you dangerous today against whatever you face.

Psalm 143 is a Psalm “of David.” In it the Psalmist cries out to God about threats coming from an enemy – an enemy who “has crushed my life to the ground.” The Psalmist responds to this threat with memory: “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done” (Psalm 143:3-5).

As then . . . so again. What work of God will you remember today?

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the works of your hands . . . my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life . . . destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.” Amen. (from Psalm 143)

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