Nothing like a little stress to bring things to the surface of my life that I need to deal with. You know... the not so nice things that you would rather not deal with. Take'em to the backyard, dig a deep hole and bury 'em. Out of sight out of mind! Not quite!
I really like garlic (great segway, eh?). In fact, sometimes I have eaten so much that the day after if I am exerting myself, the aroma of garlic comes out of my pours. If I burp - you guessed it - garlic. If I fart... that another issue altogether!
Stress can be a gift to help us face the things we need to deal with.
All this to illustrate all these out of sight - out of mind things keep "manifesting' like the garlic especially in times of stress and pressure. I think that's why God lets stressful stuff happen because then we can no longer lie, conveniently forget they are there. Then, maybe this time we'll deal with them. If not, rest assured we will have plenty of opportunities to deal with it again!
God has been doing this in my life continually for 20 + years now but seems to have taken a real liking to messing with me the last 6 or so months. This season, He has been speaking to me about pride. This pride is a little more sneaky because it masquerades as Christian virtue. It's stuff like ambition - my calling, my ministry, my destiny, my inheritance, the words spoken over my life and my effort in achieving them.
All those things and variations thereof have always been taught as virtues and encouraged in my charismatic church experience. Seven steps to this, how to get Gods favor, claiming your inheritance, your destiny, be great for God, and so on. In this pursuit, I have discovered the very things I believed would lead me to greatness in God, were, in fact, taking me in the opposite direction of the 'blessing that is to overtake me'! If I am pursuing being great, being strong and mighty (all with a great Christian pious veneer) - I am too full of myself for any of God!
I spoke with a man not too long ago. He is a part of a denomination that is in the midst of major shaking. God has led him to make some very tough decisions and specific actions. These are a bit spooky for him as he doesn't see himself as a warrior and the Goliath he faces in pretty ominous. I was praying for him, and God said that a warrior is not made overnight but through years of preparation before we even know there is a battle!
A boy who loved God
The next thing I felt the Lord showed me was David (King) was a boy, a sheepherder. Yah, I have heard all the teaching about killing the bear and the lion - valid and good but young David was NOT a warrior, but a boy who loved God knew God loved him and stepped out in the revelation of that at the leading of the Lord.
Consider the many warriors who marched the line against Goliath and his hoards - all the armor, the experience, the strength, and all the talk and yet, the Lord sends a boy to deal with the giant. Consider that Saul tried to give David his Armour - the sword, spear, the modern armaments of the day. It was apparent that David could not use them; they didn’t fit.
I suspect that as sure as David was that he was the one to deal with Goliath - there must have been a sinking feeling in his belly as he approached this nine-foot monster. Perhaps thoughts ran through his mind like - "this is insane" or "what am I, stupid?". I wonder if he re-thought leaving Saul’s armor behind? I think it is easy sometimes for us to overlook the humanness of our heroes preferring to build them into idyllic of whatever our culture esteems. I do expect David was quite human and probably had a few thoughts, a few concerns, a few 'oh no what have I done'.
None the less this boy went out trusting that God was enough. What happens next really stirs me - he grabs a few stones. If this were me I, would be looking for huge boulders because I don't want this big dude getting back up! It would make sense to thump this guy with the biggest thing I could find especially after leaving the weapons behind! What amazes me is God used a boy, a shepherd at that (not a warrior) and a smooth stone to impact history in such a profound way - make a way for a nation's destiny and a way for the entire world to enter into a relationship with God through a shepherd boy's lineage!
He was an ordinary kid in love with an extraordinary God
David was just a kid, living life. He was just delivering food to his brothers. He was an ordinary kid in love with an extraordinary God and God used him in his weakness, his child-likeness, and his simplicity. You can bet people looked at David walking out to the field to fight and either laughed or cringed. No one would have picked him to kill Goliath - I wouldn't have.
My point is that Gods ways are not my ways, and sadly my ways have influenced what I see as virtuous, godly and worthy of praise. My ways say that I need to be strong and fierce for the Lord. I need to be aggressive and ambitious to grab hold of everything I can for the Lord. I will be great, I will do this and do that, I will be well known, the mighty man of God, the great saint - I will leave a legacy!
Sadly, the legacy is one of selfish ambition. But God's ways are so different. It is not the great things we do for God as much as it is the great things He does through us and in us. He chooses the foolish things to confound the wise. The weak things, a shepherd boy, small smooth stones. His strength is perfected in us when we are weak - the world hates weakness. A pearl of great beauty reveals its brilliance on a simple black cloth. The container only serves to manifest how great the treasure is by comparison and doesn't seek to distract from the beauty of the pearl. The container seeks and has no glory in or of its own rather it is made beautiful and glorious by the treasure in which in holds. God take simple, ordinary earthen clay vessels and puts a treasure in them - Himself.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do" 2 Cor. 4:7-10. MSG
Are you a clay cracked pot?
Maybe so, but we hold a treasure! We are called to seek God, love God with all that we are and in the midst of His presence in us, we reflect His glory to a world that is desperately trying to hear above the noise of our rhetoric and to see beyond the flash of human pride - the glory and the splendor of the living God in the real lives of authentic people!