Friday, July 11, 2014

Body, Soul, and Spirit (Faith)

As I am learning how to write these entries, I am learning how to exercise my faith, because learning how to write is an important goal in my life.

Once we have made an effort to purify our hearts, once we are focused and working towards a goal in a manner that is systematically in line with our thoughts, values, feelings, and natural talents, we must exercise faith if we are ever to see that goal actualized in the material world. The world often presents difficulties that we must overcome. To reach our goals, we must continue to believe that we will achieve them. We must continue to visualize them in our mind’s eye. We must continue to believe that we are acting in accordance with the will of God for our life. Without faith that we can complete the task, we could not graduate from college, build a house, run a race, or find a mate. If we have made the effort to set a goal in line with our Divine purpose, we can believe that the God who has given us our desires will help us fulfill them.

I have spent some time wondering why I have a measure of faith in some areas of life and not in others. I have analyzed my own behavior and I have found that in the areas where I have been able to walk in faith, I often practice an exercise that can be found in the life of King David. I think back on my training as a child or as a new Christian. I recall the times God moved in my life and delivered me from some trial. I say to myself, “God delivered me from this and God gave me the strength to do that, surely I will overcome this new obstacle in my life. When King David faced a problem, he was fond of reminding himself of what God had done in life. Consider this example can found in Psalm 18:

[29] For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
[30] As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
[31] For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
[32] It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
[33] He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
[34] He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
[35] Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
[36] Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
[37] I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

I believe David benefited from good training as a child. No doubt his father, like my father, made David a sling and taught him how to use it. The sling is still a dangerous weapon (particularly in the unsupervised hands of a small boy), but in the ancient world it was a weapon of war. I expect Jesse taught him how to handle a long staff, another standard martial arts weapon and the basic tool of a shepherd. Furthermore, we know had a number of older brothers. Based on my observations of sibling behavior, it is easy to conclude that even without training, David would have to learn how to defend himself.

Out in the wilderness with the sheep, David probably found plenty of opportunities to practice with the sling and the long staff both as he protected his father’s sheep and out of sheer boredom. The point here is he did not start with Goliath of Gath. He started with smaller goals, most likely learning to hit anything at all with a sling. As a child, I could hurl a rock a great distance with my sling but I was unlikely to hit anything I was aiming at. For this reason, my sling practice was limited to areas not inhabited by windows or other children. The wilderness seems like a perfect place for a boy to learn how to use a sling. Start with small goals, build your confidence. Then look for bigger and bigger goals, understand that the God who helped you reach your first goal will help you reach your second and third goals. Then when the time comes that you must face a truly frightening challenge, like Goliath of Gath you will be ready.

I believe that David could have hit Goliath 100 out of 100 times. The giant was too big a target for an expert to miss. I believe David could have hit Goliath in his helmeted head 80 out of 100 times. But a kill shot with a single stone? I think even for an expert that is a 1 in a 100 throw, bad odds when facing a heavily armed giant. David, however, had the training, he had the experience of God’s power moving in his young life, and David confessed his faith in the present moment, in the moment of crisis. It wasn’t faked. He wasn’t pretending. It was real.

Of course we all know the outcome of this most popular of Old Testament stories. A junior high school aged boy, too young to march with the army, took out the biggest, badest martial artist of his age with a single stone.

Go thou and do likewise.

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