I remember about a year ago…I called one of the pastors of my church and asked if I could visit him. As soon I walked into his office, he greeted me and soon after went on this long monologue about how God trains his special forces. He passionately began to assure me that God has trains them differently...that they have to endure training that is distinctly difficult from the norm. Now, this went on for quite a bit…and as I sat there listening to him, I was simply floored, because unknown to him, I had come seeking prayer and counsel…having felt weary and just weak from intense spiritual battles that I was enduring at the time. He had no idea…but God was speaking to me through him.
Don’t you just love it when God does that!
But that day, God drove into me something that I had heard hundreds of times before – the intensity of the training is always reflective of the greatness of the assignment. I believe that everyone wants to accomplish something great…but the truth is that greatness comes with a cost that few are willing pay. This is the cost of training – a cost that is neither glamorous nor enjoyable. It is rather an intimidating feat that incites most to retreat.
I am reminded of a ruddy-faced boy, who serves as the poster-boy for possibly the best underdog tale in history. What I find most shocking about David’s story is not the fact he kills Goliath, but rather instead, what he mentions to King Saul as he is preparing to face Goliath – that he has struck and killed lions and bears that arose against him in the wilderness.
Hold up! Hit the brakes! Come again?
David, you’re telling that you’ve been attacked by b e a r s and l i o n s … and you KILLED them!? Umm…people..have you SEEN what bears and lions look like? If you haven’t go visit your local lion at the zoo this weekend. I cannot ever imagine, as David describes, “catching a lion by its beard, and striking it ” dead! That has got to be one of the wildest and most intimidating things I have ever heard. David’s story is not a cute story of a boy killing lions and bears but, the story of boy fighting for his very life against these wild beasts…
You see, this was how God trained David – in the wilderness…in real danger…with bears and lions. God trained David alone and in the secret – with no one rooting for him. And you have to realize that David did not have much going for him. He was the underdog of his family…the little boy that was typically forgotten – there was no one rooting for him anyway. I’m sure it was heart-wrenching to not be presented as a son by his own father, like his brothers were before Samuel…and I imagine that event is reflective of how he was generally treated by his family anyway. David was a loner…a misfit among his own..and on top of having to deal with these circumstances…David to had to face bears and lions in the wilderness. It must have been devastating.
I speculate that David was quite intimidated and afraid the first time he had to fight a bear for his life…but I believe that he began to realize, after seeing that he killed one wild beast after another, that God was up to something…that God was preparing him for greatness. Unlike what those around him thought, when David was out alone in the wilderness, he was doing more than playing shepherd-boy. No..there in the wilderness, while but a shepherd, God was training David for a calling no one imagined. God was making “a king for himself” out of a shepherd boy. [1 Samuel 16:1]. In one of his psalms David writes,
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle”
Psalm 144:1 [NKJV]
Kings are mighty warriors and a source of great comfort to their people. But I find it amusing that when the Israelites were confronted by Goliath, it was not Saul who stood against Goliath and rallied the people but the ruddy-faced, shepherd-boy, David! David displayed the true qualities of a king because had already been trained to think like one in the wilderness. You see, by the time David faced Goliath, his way of thinking had been drastically shifted from the norm, so much that he was greatly perplexed that the others were afraid of the giant – it was totally strange to him that they were intimidated! Why? Because unlike the others, David had been trained by God in the wilderness…because overcoming obstacles, having become the norm for David, obstacles were no longer obstacles for him.
Overcoming obstacles, having become the norm for David, obstacles were no longer
obstacles for him.
This is why when David faced Goliath…he did not see a giant...he did not see a problem…he did not see intimidation. Goliath was an intimidation to the others…even to King Saul…but not to David. David had been so well trained by God that when he saw Goliath, he saw dead bears and lions…he saw triumph. As my dad always says, David was so confident of his triumph against Goliath, he was instead preoccupied with asking what prize was for killing the giant!
I want you to know that is exactly what God wants to do with you and I. Today, you may be facing bears and lions that are intimidating. You may be undergoing what seems to be, an insurmountable training. But the truth is that God has called you to be great…He has called you to be a giant-killer…and this training He has put you into is to bring you to a place where you are radically fearless…a place where obstacles lose their intimidative nature in your presence…a place where you will emasculate giants before you slay them!