Sunday, November 15, 2009

Facing Our Giants

David said to the Philistine, "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. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 1 Samuel 17:45-49

We all have giants in our lives. They're mean, sniveling, mocking, huge, seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And the worst thing is, they're usually not great big, muscle-bound bullies threatening to kill us - instead, they're parasites within us, parasites of fear or doubt or insecurity, those parts about ourselves that we hate more than anything else that trap us in our own personal prisons and keep us from experiencing the fullness of life that God has for us.

Most of our giants are our very selves.

I can tell you, mine certainly is. The most insidious, loathsome, ever-present giant in my life is crippling, suffocating insecurity. Worthlessness. The feeling that I am never good enough. I feel as if I'm never going to be good enough - pretty enough, funny enough, graceful enough - for a man to really love me. I'm never going to be a good enough writer to merit anyone giving me a chance to write professionally. I'm never going to be a good enough friend to make people want to stick around when they inevitably find out that I'm not perfect in one way or another. What it all boils down to is that I feel like I am quite simply not worth the effort. And as hard as I try, I'm never going to be.

This giant spreads its venom into every area of my life, causing me to panic, to get defensive and self-protective, and, often, to ruin what could have been a really lovely experience by allowing my insecurity to take control. It's devastating for me every single time it happens, and yet I feel powerless to stop it. Probably because I am.

Oh, I've tried many times to conquer this, to just muster up some kind of self-esteem or confidence, but it never lasts, because it's all my own invention. I think I can solve it myself, can tackle this giant on my own, and set about trying to just fix it because it needs fixing and I'm ruining my own life, for crying out loud, this has to stop!

But it never works when I just try to fix it on my own, and I always end up right back in the same place, crying myself to sleep, crying out of self-inflicted loneliness, crying out to God for help.

All I have are tiny little pebbles and my giant laughs in my face, just like Goliath did to David.

Here's the thing, though: it wasn't really the rock that felled Goliath. It was God honoring David's faith.

David took that little stone in his hand and he believed that God could do it. He knew he couldn't do it by himself. He walked up to Goliath with full confidence not in himself, but in his Lord.

I think we can all learn from David's example, that the best way to face your giant is to take a deep breath, clutch your slingshot, march out there, stare that giant straight in the eye and just lob your pebble at him as hard as you can. The key is not your angle or your precision or the force of your strength or the size of your rock. It's simply that you took the first step.

God will do the rest.