This week I read the next chapter of I Samuel. I was stopped by the story of David and Goliath. Now, this was not a new story for me. Even those not raised on the Bible do generally know this story, as do probably the vast majority of non-Christians in the Western world (and some in the Eastern.) What stopped me, then, was not the newness of the story but a new understanding of it.
Reading: I Samuel 17
Meditation: Perhaps surprisingly the first phrase that caught my attention was David's comment that he had no fear because after all he had taken lambs out of the mouth of lions on many occasions. Now, I think I would be quite hesitant to approach a lion even if the occasion were to present itself, but I also know that somewhere deep inside us is a need to protect that for which we feel ourselves responsible, whether it be our children or something else. It seems a part of all nature. Bears are usually timid around people until they bear young and become fiercely protective of them. Likewise, we recently had a local hen hatch and raise a brood of chickens in our yard. (The local wild fowl have the run of San Ignatio by law and by people's protection, maybe the only place in the USA with this unusual situation. So, the hens get to choose where they raise their broods.) One day a stray dog (we have a few of those, too) grabbed one of the baby chickens. The other chicks ran in many directions, and Mama Hen went wild, flying to a roost high in our tree, alternately clucking her other chicks to return and squawking in despair about the little one in the jaws of the dog. I heard the commotion, went outside, and immediately saw what was going on. Without thinking I ran over to the dog and pried the little chick out of his mouth, scolding him for being a "bad boy." Mama Hen was soon reunited with all her chicks, including the one that the dog had tried to scarf up, the latter none the worse for his great adventure, and everyone went on his or her merry way. It was only then that I realized fighting an unknown stray dog bigger than I over a baby chicken was probably not the best reasoned thing I have ever done. But, in reading David's comment, I certainly understand the emotions that propelled him.
In the story of David and Goliath we find a great deal of abandonment of self to trust in God, not that unsimilar to the abandonment that comes, as David said, from rescuing lambs from lions (or perhaps chicks from dogs). I have never had to abandon myself to a situation where I had to literally kill a Goliath, but metaphorically, figuratively, sure. I am certain we all find ourselves face to face with a Goliath in our life, and we have the choice to trust God or run away and let someone else take care of the Goliath (or be "killed" by it ourselves).
In seems like I have a whole family of Goliaths in my life. Each time one is conquered after a little while a new one appears. Each time the Goliath is vanquished by the grace of God and little more (just a pebble). When, for example, Blaine, Ksenya, and Shura appeared in our path to be taken care of, we had no money. God found it for us, including a million dollars for Shura's medical care. The Goliath of poverty was overcome by a pebble slung in the right direction, in Shura's case toward a billionaire (with some re-direction from God -- we had the wrong address; he lived in a different state, and to this day I do not know how it was that he received my letter).
Oh, yes, there is often a Goliath in front of us. It could be poverty. It could be a legal or medical obstacle. It could be a difficult supervisor at work. It could be loss of a job like Shane is experiencing right now. It could be so many things. Were it only one Goliath! Killed once and gone forever! However, if you are like me, it seems to always be a matter of one down and many to go. One down and a clear road today, but rounding the corner tomorrow, oops!, there we go again!
Maybe we encounter many Goliaths (or at least I do), so that learning to trust God becomes a matter of habit. The more we trust and find the trust to be to good avail, the greater and more automatic our trust becomes. At least, that is my calculated, meditated guess.
And that is far as I can go with you on this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to repent for those times that I have tried to take on Goliath on my own or to worry that Goliath will win, to thank God for always being with me and giving me the pebbles with which to win over the Goliaths that appear in front of me, and to give praise for His incredible faithfulness in guiding my puny pebbles so that I know that I can trust Him in anything and everything. After that, I will spend time in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.