Faithful Living: Let faith lead you into battle

Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded.

–Anita Roddick

“I’m bored and writing this paper isn’t my idea of fun!” a student announced the other morning as he stood next to my desk. “And … I’m tired,” he added as he shuffled over to a school computer, head drooping and covered with a hood.

“It’s tough, I know!” I commented, “But I’ve got confidence in you. You can push through those feelings and get the job done!”

And they all said I wouldn’t make a good cheerleader.

With that, he found a computer, removed his hood and got to work. I silently harnessed my thoughts into a prayer. It’s what I do when I’m bored, or facing a task I don’t want to do, or feel little more than exhaustion. I have no idea if he prays, so I prayed on his behalf.

It’s the same strategy King David employed when faced with meeting the Philistines in battle, when he felt small against his enemies, when attacked by waring nations, and when puzzled about his role as king. In scripture we learn that when David was at the top of his game he regularly “inquired of the Lord.” He engaged in dialog with God. Expressed his fears and asked God for courage and wisdom, which he gained, by the way, time and again.

Our lives are certainly different, or are they? We may not have a battalion of men to lead into battle, but some among our military ranks do just that. David had Goliath and neighboring nations with bad intent to contend with. And so do we. Our enemies resemble depression, financial worry, sexual abuse, unemployment, and abandonment. Others face enemies resembling bills that can’t be paid, pornography that can’t be resisted, careers going nowhere, a future without a loved one.

My sister in law must wake each day without her precious and successful son, who took his own life without a clue as to why. I’d do about anything to snatch her away from that battlefield, I love her so.

Instead of diving too deeply into the “what ifs …” and “if onlies …”, I look to King David, instead. He’s one great teacher.

Being fully human, David made a great many mistakes. Some were small miscalculations. Others Olympic in size. Like the time he grew so weary of his enemies he joined them. Took his family, his warriors and their families and moved into enemy territory so the others on his tail would back off and leave them alone.

There was, as we read in scripture, some degree of relief for a time. David struck a deal with the King of Gath and was granted a village where he could live. It’s a fascinating story, there in First Samuel, and I urge you to crack open a Bible and give it a read. If you’ve got a Bible filled with antiquated wording, get hold of a modern version like The Message. It’s a Bible intended to be read as opposed to studied word for word. A Bible on CD works well for auditory learners.

You’ll learn that surviving in enemy territory required that David lie. Switch allegiances. Muddle through battles and death and destruction of his own doing. During this time he wrote no psalms. Stopped talking with God. And certainly cut himself off from a support team that worked off a foundation of faith.

Eventually, David learned to stop talking only with himself after a great amount of suffering. He learned that joining forces with evil, hurting, and selfish people draws you down, down, down. The good disappears and the only way to recover and find your own goodness once again is to step off that waring path and move over to a road filled with people who are able to correct and encourage each other because God is guiding and loving them.

We see it all around us. People losing their joy. They are tired of working hard, tired of forgiving, tired of sacrificing, and tired of dealing with stubborn or rude or ignorant people. But the long-term, healthy, soul-enriching solution will not be found with another run to the local bar, a luxury vacation that only provides momentary relief, or a trip to the mall offering a momentary high.

It’s found in another step of determination: heading the direction of God. Get quiet on a routine basis. Ask that he enter your life in the most practical of ways. Offer him thanks, even for the small things. And seek out a good crowd. You know where they are. They’re over there, in an uncrowded space, there in the light.