Living in this small community has such benefits, one of which is a small country church. A place of worship that is loving, growing, learning and building the character of its members. The great part to me is the Bible Study we do on Sunday and Wednesday nights. It is great simply because of its structured approach to learning. Our pastor, Johnny Miller, will lead one week and the next week one of our deacons, Earl Dugas, leads the next week. Their approaches are different and this makes those of us who are participating are the ones who benefit from this approach. We also have the uniqueness in that we, the congregation, the assembled believers and yes, the students are encouraged to share how we see the scripture selection as we move verse to verse. The openness of communication allows us to not only learn the foundation of the truths that have been before us for years while allowing the new view or understanding through the interpretation and growth of life’s experiences. The referenced reading is 1 Samuel: 17, the Bible story that all children hear early in life, even if they are not in church, the victory of the shepherd boy over the giant. But there is more to that story, more to the ritual of preparing for war/battle/conflict, the choice of the weapons we use and the motives or desires behind our actions. Stepping into my professional training, the sociologist, the behaviorist in me has a new understanding of the story that is often called a Children’s Bible Story; this child of God needed a new understanding of the battle that changed the life completely of the shepherd boy. Beginning with verses 4 -11 describes the giant, the Philistine warrior and the force he represented. Tall, powerful, skilled, well-armed, a seasoned victor – he knew his ability and strength, and an idol of his fellow soldiers. So what about our giants, the giants we face in our daily walk. My giants have traveled with me a very long time because I gave them breath and I was so small in comparison to the giants of fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer. There are probably a lot more, but I chose to identify five, one for each of the smooth stones that David chose to place in his pouch (1 Samuel 17:40)
The artist’s interpretation [David and Goliath, a colourlithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888)] of the overwhelming size of the giant, Goliath, over that of his challenger, David, is a symbolic representation of how we as humans often feel when facing the trials and tests that come as we journey through this life. I can only speak from my own personal journey of faith, and yes, the giants in my life have been astonishingly strong in their ability to invade, control and paralyze my ability to live the life God had planned for me to live. Fear froze me in a negative path of “what ifs” and kept me from pursuing the things that would serve to worship God and bless others once I reached a certain measure of growing through the test to a level of faith that would surpass the fear, anytime that giant returned.
Once I learned to challenge the unrealistic components of my fear, the giant was no longer so powerful – just a stone’s throw to defeat each time it would return. Anger, one of the stones that seemed extremely weighty in my life, became the next giant I was to battle. Once I knew I was angry and that it was not a sin to experience that emotion, I could manage its power over my life. David, the youngest of Jesse’s son, fair to look at, but of small stature in comparison to Goliath and his contrasting size and weaponry, helped me to understand the giant is only a giant if I see myself as small and ill-equipped. So one by one I visited those five stones over the next few days before our small Wednesday night group would meet again. My stones were becoming smooth because of the acknowledgement of them in my life and because I named them and gave them to God, because God is the only controller of my life. The fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer each had to be faced. Facing those things that hinder the maturing of faith in life have to be acknowledged, challenged and defeated. Those five stones bullied me much like Goliath bullied the soldiers of Israel every day – come and fight me, for I will win. In verse 10, the giant would present his challenge “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together”. The giant knew the power he had over the armies, simply by daunting them with the task of fighting one on one, sure of his size and ability. That is how much power I was surrendering my own power given by God to the giants in my life. They seemed very large, very sure of my weakness, I was sure of my weakness – thus the stones self-doubt and weak spirit. Cancer is huge, there is no doubt of that, it claims lives daily but there are those times the giant loses. Prayer, personal bible study and exercising faith through prayer and trust in a God who is greater and able to do “… super abundantly able to do above all we dare ask, think, hope and desire …” (Eph. 3:20, Amplified Bible) became my weapons for battle. But that is only three stones, and David took five stones into battle, and so do I, daily. It is those three stones plus two more – the first stone being the love of the people who God has placed in my life, and the fifth stone being God working through the doctors and their skills to defeat the giant. There is more to this David and Goliath story, but that comes later. Join me next week as I move to the rest of the story.