Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who/What Dominates Your Heart?

At first, I crawled around on my hands and knees like a toddler—all I could manage to do. Are you asking what circumstances caused this? The cause—my fear of heights.

I help my husband Dave un-tarp our alfalfa when he brings it in every two weeks. The load is 8 foot wide, 48 foot long, and over 14 foot high. Years ago, when I first started helping him, I could only crawl like a baby on top of the load—very slow help at best. No courage whatsoever, and to worsen matters, the load of hay also rocks a bit when we move around.

Also, the black tarp that protects the alfalfa hides spaces between the hay bales. If a misplaced foot sinks down in those crevices, a tumble could happen. After years of trusting my husband to grab my hand or steady me if I totter when near the edge, I can walk around at those heights. And I’ve even learned to look for blessings up there—one is rubbing shoulders with the early morning songbirds.

Trust is the first step toward acquiring courage. One time in David’s saga, he faced a surprise battle where trust and courage triumphed. During a cheese-and-bread run to a battlefield to deliver homemade vittles to his three older brothers, the kid who was too young for the army heard a giant enemy bellow a taunt.

David arrived just in time to hear Goliath, the Philistine’s champion soldier, defy Israel’s army and God. He wanted a one-to-one, man-to-man fight by his rules. If the giant champion won, nothing would change—the Philistines would remain the victors. But, if an Israelite man won, then the oppressors would become the servants. The Philistines had subjugated Israel for many years and rid the territory of all blacksmiths, fearing the making of weapons. The only two swords or spears in all of Israel belonged to King Saul and his son Jonathan. I suppose Israel’s ragtag army equipped themselves with farm tools—not much of an armory. I imagine that the glint of enemies’ weapons in the early morning sun added to Israel’s fear.

News reached King Saul that a young lad had volunteered to meet the champion Goliath in the Valley of Elah (between the two encampments). Saul armed the slight youth with a bronze helmet and his own armor, but after the dress rehearsal David shed the unfamiliar clunky armor. He told the king, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17: 37).

The well shod Goliath had dominated and terrified Israel for days upon days. Fear fueled and ruled the camp of Israel. Tension had multiplied. No one wanted hand-to-hand combat with this massive soldier. David left the king’s presence with his shepherd’s staff and a slingshot in hand. He stopped at a brook and chose five smooth stones. David didn’t quaver. He didn’t cower. He stood. Then he walked on to meet a nearly seven foot giant bully.

Eugene Peterson says David’s had a “God dominated imagination.” His trust in God increased his courage. King Saul to the lowest servant had been demoralized by Goliath’s colossal threats against them and their God. But David’s notions were dominated by his enormous God. He had witnessed his faithfulness in peace and combat with the wild.

The vast giant saw the young boy and his shepherd’s staff and scoffed and cursed David by his pagan gods. He saw the simple staff and asked, “Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?” (vs.43). David’s’ heart may have pounded, but his whole body counted on help from God and we’re told that this youth “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet [Goliath]” (vs. 43).

You know the conclusion of the story. David one. Goliath none.

What giants do you face? Are there heights you fear scaling? Are you toddler- crawling when you could be walking and accomplishing your calling?

Trust the Chief Shepherd to give you a God dominated imagination. He has an ample supply of courage to pass out to receptive hearts.

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