>Image via Wikipedia
These are big issues.
These are bad issues.
These are issues that are clearly not what God wants for the world.
However, their size and their scope can make us feel so very small. In fact, I think the issues are so big that we have this natural flight response that makes us want to run away from them as fast as we can so that we can deal about those issues which are more personal to our own situations. Give us something smaller. How about talking about trying to be Godly spouses or our need to read the Bible more frequently? Tell us some nice stories of Jesus and the coming Kingdom of God. When’s Christmas? At least these are issues we feel like we can do something about.
But next week I’ll be in that pulpit with sermon in hand and I will try with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength to have our congregation get passionate about the poverty issue that face so many of the people in the world and so many people in our own country and, really, so many persons in our own community as well. And I’m not sure where we’ll be at the end of the hour (or hour plus). Will anyone be moved? Will anyone have their eyes opened to little things that can be done in our own backyard? Will lives be changed? Will a new generation of advocates rise up?
Or will everyone get a glimpse of the size of the issue at hand and run the other way?
One of my favorite prayers is the prayer of a fisherman that I had heard years ago. It says:
Saul and the Israelites are facing the Philistines at the Valley of Elah. Twice a day for forty days, Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, comes out between the lines and challenges the Israelites to send out a champion of their own to decide the outcome in single combat. However, Saul and all the other Israelites are afraid of him. By chance, David is present, having brought food for his elder brothers. Told that Saul has promised to reward any man who defeats Goliath, David accepts the challenge. Saul reluctantly agrees and offers his armor, which David declines, taking only his sling and five stones chosen in a brook.
David and Goliath confront each other, Goliath with his armor and shield, David with his staff and sling. “The Philistine cursed David by his gods,” but David replies: “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that God saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is God’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
David hurls his sling with all his might, and hits Goliath in the center of his forehead. The Philistine falls on his face to the ground, David takes Goliath’s sword and cuts off his head. The Philistines flee and are pursued by the Israelites “as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron.”
We need to remember as we do all of this that David didn’t have much either. He was just a kid who was pretty good with a sling shot and had the faith of God that he’d be victorious. He just found a few good stones right as he goes off to the fight.
Says David right before the battle: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17)
And we know of that turned out…for both David and that menacing giant that he faced.
So, next week, once again we’ll gather and we’ll hand our our little stones…small changes in life, ways to get involved, bits of information to spread the news about the issues at hand so that we can better know our enemy. Together we’ll fling these with all the faith and strength we can muster…praying that we hit our enemy right where it hurts…and that we win through the grace of our God.