The first thought that strikes me as I read this account is how easily we think we will just quickly “arrive” at living out our life’s calling. Because of our instant gratification, “your way, right away” culture, we often will get fed up far too early on the process God has for us. I can think of sometimes early on into adulthood where I tossed up my hands far too early, giving up when maybe if I had stayed with a task just a little longer I would have seen a rewarding outcome.
It is easy to become discouraged with such an expectation when the world does not live up this hope.
The part of David’s life we glimpse in 1 Samuel 18 is the midpoint of his career as soldier and leader. A long time ago David had been anointed King by Samuel. I can’t speak for anyone else, but each time I read that story a part of me wants it to be a bit more Disney. When given title of king, I want him to have the shining robe of kingship thrown over him then and there, trumpets blasted for all to hear, and for him to enter into his reward right away.
In actual fact David goes back to working with the sheep, as if nothing happens. He begins to become involved in the royal palace almost by accident, in part as a court musician and in part because of his courage to engage Goliath in battle. Saul hands over some responsibility to David to wage battles. This is a far cry from kingship.
And after beginning to gain success, Saul begins to seek to kill him. In just a few short chapters from this one, David will be on the run for his life. So much for climbing the corporate ladder!
Ultimately David will become king, but it is no short easy journey. It is a winding, circuituitous journey. It is after repeated false starts, seeming failures, and times of great trial
Walking with God is no fairy tale. Growing up in churches that spoke of praying for miracles and breakthroughs I remember times where I wanted to believe if I was faithful, and prayed hard enough things would just come together. Ask and you shall receive, right? The reality is, following Christ ain’t Disney. There is no magic sword in the stone to pull out or glass slippers to advance us to quick success. Sorry gamers, there is not a cheat code like a video game.
The call to follow Christ is a call to be faithful, compassionate, just, and loving even when the outcome is uncertain. It is to keep going, trusting that this moment is not all there is.
To me this story is not a downer but an encouragement. It reminds me that when I look at the distance I’ve journeyed in my life and the part of me that looked for some miraculous breakthrough expecting God to “get me there” soon sits judging me saying “why aren’t you further along yet?” that I don’t need to buy into that judgment. There is nothing to be ashamed of in not always seeing the payoff yet. The Biblical examples show that our calling does not emerge all at once, fulfilled quickly, but rather is found through long hard struggle, often out of a winding journey.
David must spend years in various jobs other than king, even time on the run, before he is ready for kingship and Israel ready for him. Moses had to spend his time in the wilderness herding sheep – some 40 years – before he was ready to be God’s messenger to free Israel, a call that was no cakewalk.
So I need to change expectations and not become discouraged to not be there yet. I need to begin to give myself and God some patience and slack, realizing this journey is not about arriving anyway. It is about what sort of person my spiritual pilgrimage will shape me into. And that cannot be rushed.
Your progressive redneck preacher,