When I read about the life stories of God’s heroes and heroines of faith, their lives often sound like roller coaster rides at an amusement park. Often they begin as David, Gideon or Peter did, in very lowly places, and end up in places of great influence, but it’s never a completely smooth ride. Their life stories often take sharp turns, around unexpected sharp corners, are presented with immovable steep ascents, followed closely by exhilarating and breath-taking descents and jarring stops.
Personally, I’m not a fan of roller coaster rides! They make me physically ill, and I much prefer the consistent pace of the Ferris Wheel, with its scenic views and predictable pace. For most of us though, or at least for those who’ve learnt to abandon themselves to the purposes of God, life has the unpredictability of a roller coaster. This was certainly the case with David in the Old Testament.
We first hear about David as a young man, caring for his father’s sheep. The prophet Samuel anoints him as King Saul’s successor, unbeknown to Saul of course, who ends up conscripting David into his service. David kills the nine-foot giant Philistine, known as Goliath, and becomes a mighty warrior, of high rank. His position in life in enviable, until he loses his favour with Saul and becomes hunted prey. Mighty men are drawn to David’s side in the wilderness, while others betray him. His first wife is taken from him, and his life is filled with constant moving and intrigue. It certainly was a roller coaster ride.
During this season in his life, David’s beloved friend Jonathan finds David and ‘helped him find strength in God’ (1 Samuel 23). What joy and courage it must have brought to David to see Jonathan again and to be reminded of God’s promises for his life! Jonathan encouraged David to not be afraid (even though, humanly speaking, he had every reason to be fearful), and to keep his eyes on God, who could be trusted to fulfil His purposes.
We all need Jonathan-type people in our lives, who speak words of life into our doubting and fearful hearts. I thank God for such people and long to be such a person myself. Jonathan coming was such an encouragement to David, but a time would come where David would find himself totally alone, grief-stricken, and at the mercy of his angry men. It was here, bereft of human friendship and support, that David had to find his strength in the Lord his God (See 1 Samuel 30:6). Likewise, sometime during our life, we too will share David’s experience.
I remember many years ago, I feared returning to my homeland, because of the difficulties I faced there. I dreaded my home-coming, and cried out to the Lord in prayer. All of a sudden my focus was lifted off my perceived difficulties to a poster on the wall of the prayer room. Written in bold letters was a well-known scripture from Ephesians 6. It read, ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’ (Ephesians 6:10).
I’d read that scripture many times before, but it hit me afresh, and I was greatly encouraged. It wasn’t my strength that I was to depend on, but rather it was God’s strength. As David did, I was able to find my strength in the Lord. I’m so grateful for the people that God brings alongside me to strengthen me in my journey, and no doubt you are as well. But however good and beneficial it is to have such people in our lives, their help fades into significance when compared with the strength of God. The psalmist proclaimed that God was the stronghold of his life and his helper (Psalm 27:1 & 9). I encourage you today to take your eyes off man, and set them firmly on your God. Find your strength in Him. He alone is everything you need.
Prayer: God, You’re my rock. You’re my fortress. You’re the one I trust, and look to, for strength, protection, wisdom, grace, mercy, and everything else I need. Amen.
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