As summer prepares her valiant exit and fall enters in all of his magnificent beauty, I ponder my word for 2016.
Did you pick a word?
As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time for a soul check.
How are we doing?
As I consider all of the things that God has worked in my heart over this year I ask myself, “Has my faith changed?” What have I learned?”
The Holy Spirit, always present, begins to bring challenges to mind which took great faith to endure. We will call them, “My giants.”
We never seem to want to go back to face our giants, do we? Even in the rear view mirror, it’s difficult to be jumping up and down declaring victory. Nope, typically I run as fast as I can, thinking, “Whew am I glad that is over!”
But I wonder if God wants us to reflect a bit before we move on?
I wonder if He actually uses giants to build our faith?
Now don’t misinterpret my meaning, this isn’t an effort to gloat over victory or even to go back and kick the giant when he’s down. This is purely an opportunity to reflect on our own reaction to the giants we face in life.
David’s life reflected (4) ways that I believe he would encourage us in our own as we face our giants.
In 1 Samuel 17, we learn of a young Shepherd boy named David. The youngest of his family, he spent most of his time in the fields. When his father, Jesse, asked him to take food to his brothers who were on the battlefield, David didn’t complain about leaving his safe place, he didn’t argue that he had better things to do, and I think that through this he shares with us his first recommended to-Do, he obeyed.
We will face uncertain circumstances in our life when we are asked to do something out of our comfort zone. In this moment, we have a choice, to say yes or no. If we say yes, we have the opportunity for a great adventure. If we say no, what will we miss?
I had an "out of my comfort zone" decision to make. Six years ago I was called to serve in student ministry. The call to serve was great, and prior to this moment my choices were easy, requiring little commitment. But serving students? I wasn't sure I wanted to face that giant. I was not qualified to serve students, but God helped me face my insecurity with His promise that He doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.
Just like David, I obeyed, facing my giant with this prayer, “Lord, I trust You to know the purpose and plan You have for me. I claim your promise to give me hope and a future trusting that if You call me to serve You will provide the wisdom and strength I need to fulfill this calling."
The adventure He has blessed me is greater than anything I could imagine.
As David’s story continues, we watch as the Israelites shrink in fear as they face a 7' giant by the name of Goliath. Goliath was a Philistine sent to strike fear into the hearts of the Israelites. And it was working. But little David did something quite unique, he got mad, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David would ask and without a second thought, he tells the King, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Leading me to David’s 2nd To-Do:
Face Your Fear
We all have a “fight or flight” bone in our body. And the moment will come when we choose which direction we will go. Granted, there are times we should fight and others when we should flee, but when it comes to faith, we must know this truth- Fear is the opposite of faith. We may lose out on a faith building opportunity if we choose to run from the giant of fear. Why? Because our faith comes from trusting the One who breathed life into us, the One who promised that we could do all things through Him, the One who reminds us in Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
David knew this truth as he tells us in verse 37: “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
The Lord who rescued me . . . David had experience of God’s grace which had built a layer of faith within him previously.
God does the same for us, He builds layers of faith through every giant we face.
My fear this year was great. You see, I wrote this book, “Confessions of a Helicopter Mom,” and for three years I dragged my feet thinking- “You’re not an author,” “what do you know about publishing?” “Who is going to buy it anyway?”
I had something greater though which gave me courage in the face of my giant- “fear”, I had the Lord. He had placed a word on my heart through my fear in parenting and He was going to use it to help others recognize Him in their own.
So I faced my fear with this prayer, “Thank You Father for the promise that I can do all things through Christ, please give me wisdom and help me to face my fear and bring You glory through this opportunity You have blessed me.”
In facing my fear, He has gifted me with stories of those who have been blessed by the words He has given me.
I love what comes next in David’s story, King Saul attempts to dress David. “He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.” I find this amusing because King Saul thought he “knew” what David needed, and would attempt to set David up for success. And David tried, really, but ultimately David had to do David. So what does he do? He removes the armor, the helmet and takes his staff, five smooth stones and his slingshot to the battle field.
Through this I believe David would encourage us with his 3rd To-Do:
Prepare knowing that God’s plan is uniquely for You
Everyone has an opinion, you know the old adage, “Opinions are like fill in the blank here, everyone has one.” But “everyone” doesn’t walk in your shoes and they won’t stand in front of the Almighty one day on your behalf.
My giant here is an intense desire to please others. My heart is in the right place, but often I find myself doing things which take me away from my Father’s adventure. So, my prayer looks like this, “Father, You created me and knew me before anyone, all of my days ordained before one of them came to be. Lord, I ask that you fill me with Your Spirit, grant me wisdom and help me not to look to others to point me in the way I should go but instead to allow You to be my guide.”
My learning to walk in His unique plan for me allows me to be the best me vs struggling to be someone I am not in my desire to please others.
As we come to the pinnacle of David’s story, we see great courage in the heart of David, “a man after God’s own heart.” The Philistine is getting close to David, cursing him, threatening him. David does something which we should all take stock in, he allows faith to take control as he faces his giant. “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands.” David knew something that Goliath didn’t know, God is in control, even in the face of our giants.
Finally, I think David would remind us to:
Trust that God is in control
It all comes to this. We can hope that we can defeat our giants on our own strength or we can know that our giant is already defeated. When we recognize that we have One on our side who has already defeated our giant, our faith grows to a whole new level. Our courage comes in this moment of truth as we face our giant and say, “Today the Lord will give me strength to overcome, to fight, and to succeed.”
Even as I write this, I have to face a giant greater than myself. You see, I wrote this section with a completely different personal story but apparently God wanted me to share a real struggle as anxiety bubbles up inside. An unexpected change occurs at work and my first reaction is to allow anxiety to raise my blood pressure. Facing the disappointment of others and the unexpected disruption to my work plans for the day brings that old enemy up inside me. My giant, just like Goliath, is threatening my peace. But remember, I have a choice here, I can choose to allow my enemy to steal my joy OR I can face my giant and say nope not today. So my prayer today was, “Father, You have taught me not to be anxious but to lift all of my requests to you, and the peace which transcends all understanding will be mine in Christ Jesus.”
He blessed me with peace.
This story ends with David defeating the Philistine with (5) stones and a slingshot. God built David’s faith as he faced his giant and through it all God was glorified.
In this 9th month of 2016, as Summer says her glorious goodbye, my heart is soaring as I recognize the molding of heart that my Father is pursuing within me. He too is building my own faith as He reminds me that I need not face my giants alone, but that He will walk with me into battle already declaring victory.
Thank You Father