My firstborn was about three year old when we took him for his first visit to the zoo. We drove hours to get there and I was so excited to introduce him to exotic and rare animals of all sorts. And that is precisely when I learned that the zoo is not really for 3 year olds.
Of course he enjoyed it – the animals, the food, who wouldn’t? He named all of the animals he saw in books we had read, we rode the train and purchased a token souvenir, but there was a certain thrill, an awe and appreciation a three year old doesn’t quite grasp yet. For all he knew elephants and tigers (and maybe even unicorns) lived down the street from us in Washington state.
He did not yet know enough to truly appreciate what it was he was seeing.
It was in that knowing that my 8 year old daughter approached me the other day with a few questions about David and Goliath. The familiar story that had been read and recounted to her countless times was now taking on a new shape and meaning.
Was Goliath really as tall as the ceiling, mom?
Was David really just a boy?
And did he really kill the giant with just one stone?
How is that even possible?
And so here we were. She knows that elephants don’t live down the street. That unicorns don’t exist and that David and Goliath seem nearly impossible.
As I searched for words beyond “God is that amazing”, I realized, her questions are mine as well. Over time, familiarity can be breed complacency, but when I really think about it, how is that story even possible? I have a few decades on this girl of mine and it’s enough to know that life doesn’t always play out like that. People don’t always engage like that. What was David’s secret sauce anyhow?
As I re-read the familiar story, God’s living and active word, a few themes appear. Themes my 8-year-old needs to hear. Themes I need to know. Themes, maybe, you need reminded of as well?
David knew his God.
David was a man after God’s heart – he followed him fervently, believed in him fearlessly. His heart was so tethered to Christ that he was offended by Goliath, not scared of him.
“For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
(1 Samuel 11:26)
Can’t you see him? David is not scared, he is appalled. Who does this Philistine think he is anyway? I love that. What an appropriate response. I don’t want to be scared of my Goliaths, I want to be offended by them, because I fully know, truly believe, who my God is.
David knew his strengths.
We see in David’s character a thread of humble faithfulness. David developed his skills on the harp and God used that skill to gain him recognition. He was a skilled shepherd warding off beasts such as bear and lion and God had big plans for his faithfulness. David wasn’t out there hustling for his worth, he was faithfully growing the very abilities God gave him, and that preparation gave him confidence to step and be used.
David was ready to act.
His lack of hesitation is astounding, even in the face of resistance from his own brothers and those around him. David was unwavering as he said to Saul
“Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with the Philistine.”
(1 Samuel 17:32)
He knew his God, he knew his strengths, and he was willing and ready to act.
What a combination. Simply knowing his God would not have been enough. Knowing his strengths was not enough. But the willingness to use all of that, to offer it up, to bravely step, opened the door for God to use him in an incredible way.
That seems like a lot to offer an 8-year-old, doesn’t it? But just as David was called, so also is she. So also, are we.
Our Goliaths look different. They take the size and shape of our own impossible. They take the form and substance of what our brothers or our friends might scoff at. They look like a diagnosis or a financial burden, loving the unlovable, and forgiving when we are broken. But the demand for a David-sized heart, a David-sized faith and a David-sized willingness remains unchanged.
Oh God, that we may know you, know our strengths and be willing, always willing to be used by you.
Katie Westenberg is a wife, mother and writer who is passionate about living life bravely for the glory of our Creator and encouraging others to do the same. She enjoys country living in a small town, time spent with friends and family, and saying YES to adventure. She writes at ichoosebrave.com.