Thursday, May 29, 2014

In the Valley of Sheep

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is David.  His life reads like a Hollywood movie, but that's not what I love about David.  I love his humility and his willingness to learn; I love his simple beginnings and his passion for his friends and family; I love his poetry and his confessions.  This man loved God with all of his heart, but he still made huge, very human, mistakes.  It's easy to be drawn in by the stories of his battle exploits and the grandeur of his kingship, but I've always loved the story of the shepherd boy.

Take a moment a consider David's beginnings.  He comes from a small town; the youngest of Jesse's eight sons.  According to I Samuel chapter 16, his brothers were of impressive stature and physically attractive.  Samuel couldn't believe that, one after another, God was passing them up to be the next King of Israel.  When you think about it, David must have felt pretty insignificant in this family--his father didn't even consider bringing him in from the fields to meet with Samuel!  But, God changed everything.  He usually does.

David's role as giant-slayer and future King did not just happen to him, though.  God saw David's potential from his childhood--and God shaped David into a man of God through many small events before we ever meet him.  What we need to understand is that God didn't put David into the court of Saul to groom him for the throne.  God put David in a pasture; in the valley with the sheep; in the perfect place to learn diligence, perseverance, gentleness, patience, and faith.  Sheep are not great conversationalists, and I'm sure David had plenty of time to think and pray and draw close the the Spirit of God as He met David right where he was.  In that pasture.  Sheep are not that bright, and caring for them gave David plenty of opportunity to learn patience and gentleness as he tended to their needs.  Sheep require a lot of attention--they must be led to good grazing land and they are prime targets for predators.  Caring for them developed perseverance and initiative in this hard working young man.  David also learned how to defend and protect them and, I believe, developed the "faith muscles" needed to call on God in times of both danger and boredom.

The time in the valley of sheep was necessary to build and grow the character David would need for the months and years and decades to come.   He would need this faith to face Goliath.  He would need this gentleness to develop a friendship with Jonathon and to soothe Saul with his music.  He would need this patience and perseverance to survive the years he was chased by Saul. He would need all of this to be the King God had chosen him to be.

David's encounter with Goliath is often seen as an epic story of the the little guy defeating the big guy--but, it couldn't be further from that.  It is the story of a little guy with a big God defeating a big guy who was his own god. 

That's where you and I come in; where we take from David's story the most important lesson of all.  No job is too small.  No place God has placed you is insignificant.  No relationship is unimportant.

It's not about us.  It's about God.  Everything.  Everything I do, I must do as though I do it for the Lord.  That's what David did as he tended sheep, and that's what I must do as I care for my family, my friends, my patients, my co-workers.  My life is not about me, me, me.  It's about God.

So, in my own valley of sheep, I must choose to wait patiently for the next opportunity God gives me to learn.  I need to learn the same diligence, perseverance, gentleness, patience, and faith that David had to learn.  Not because God plans on making me royalty, but because I already am.

I am a daughter of the One True King of Heaven and Earth.