Thursday, June 26, 2008

New ... Or Knew?

One day, David, the future King of Israel, heads over to take his brothers some food. As the boys are presently engaged as Israeli soldiers fighting the dread Philistines, David not only will get to serve his brothers, but, more importantly for our young hero, he will be able to witness the fighting first hand.

Once he arrives, David discovers that there is this humongous Philistine soldier, Goliath of Gath, chiding, condemning, and taunting the Israeli soldiers to a mano-y-mano showdown: winner takes all. As the Philistine is about 10 feet tall with armor that weighs almost as much as many of the Israeli’s (125+ pounds), no one seemed all that gung-ho to accept his challenge … Not on the 1st day of his challenge, not on the 1st evening of his challenge … not on the 7th day or evening … and this went on for 40 days, twice daily, with no takers.

As he surveys the battlefield during one of Goliath’s taunting-sessions, David hears that if any Israeli soldier will go out, fight Goliath and win, he will receive treasure and the King's daughter.

David: Uh, what did you just say? What do I get if I rid the earth of this oaf?

Soldier: Huge reward, King’s daughter, yada, yada, yada.

Eliab (David’s bother): What are you doing here? Why aren’t you tending your sheep? I know what you want: you want ringside seats so you can see the blood and gore!

David: What’s up with you, man?

So, David saunters off, finds another soldier:

David: What do I get if I kill this yahoo?

Soldier: You get a huge reward, the King's daughter, and are pretty much set up for life!

(David has now asked and heard about the reward three times! I think it is interesting that what originally motivated David to fight Goliath was NOT Righteous Anger or the Glory of God but a desire for the reward and the babe! Of course, once he faces Goliath, it will become all about God’s Glory. Amazing what God uses to motivate us in the right direction, eh?)

When King Saul hears that there is someone who sounds interested in fighting Goliath, he sends for him. Once he sees David, however, he tells the youngster, “Never mind: you are too young and inexperienced. Come on boy, 'Here, there be monstors' ... this guy is a trained killing machine who has been mastering his craft for years and years!”

David: Listen to me. I have been protecting my flock for years. Lions, bears, whatever, it didn’t matter: if they came for my sheep, they were road-kill. Every time some animal came after one of my sheep, God delivered it into my hands for a tasty meal. He will do the same with this pig who is defying the Army of the Lord.

Saul: Okay. You’re in. Put on this armor.

David: (Squirming, grunting, sweating, feeling an oncoming hernia from the weight of it all) Forget it. I can’t even breathe with this on, much less fight with it: take it off of me.”

So, David goes back, retrieves his staff, walks over, chooses 5 stones for his slingshot, and ambles out to face Goliath. No doubt, this is when he was absolutely certain that, however motivating the treasure and the babe were, he is going to need God’s help!

Goliath: Do I look like a dog that you can beat with a stick? Yowzer boy, are you even shaving yet?

David: You come at me all Rambo-like with your sword, your shield, your spear … I come at you with the God of a Host of Angels, the God of Israel, and I am telling you right now, in a few moments I am going to skewer you like a pig on a spit, remove your head from your shoulders, and then serve you and your buddies to the buzzards.

You the know the rest of the story: Wham, Bam … and, of course, “Thank you, Princess, ma’am!”

While I am fascinated by how God obviously used human desires to motivate David in the right direction, what intrigues me even more, is the part of the story where David tries on and then takes off the armor, preferring to fight Goliath with his staff and sling: weapons with which he had repeatedly won battle after battle, in the past.

How often do we face our internal or external Goliaths, and go in search of new armor and weapons with which to slay the beast … only to put it on and find that the new stuff wasn’t working? What if we realized that life—that our Creator and Father—had already prepared us for this battle? What if we faced our Goliath with the confidence that we already possessed the resources we needed to defeat our enemy?

This is not to say that we don’t need to learn anything new about our self, our God and the world in which we live: not at all. What I am suggesting is the possibility of a different mindset for facing our present battles. Is it possible that we already possess what we need, so as to achieve victory? Is it possible that part of what we need to “learn” is the forgotten or unrealized power of the gifts, strengths, and resources we already possess?

Think about it: what better way to pave the road for defeat than for our “enemy” to get us to focus on our real or imagined weaknesses?

“I am not enough. I don’t have the resources for this battle. I need something else, something different. I will surely die unless I find some new armor to put on. But the enemy is at the door … it is too late.”

Again, without suggesting that there is nothing else you need to learn in life, what if what God wants you to see is the value and efficaciousness of what you already possess? What if, rather than running around searching for new armor (new teachings, strategies, weapons, and such), you said to yourself: “I already possess all the gifts, strengths and resources needed for this battle,” knowing that it is, in fact, the truth about yourself?

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day to Me!

Bethany, Rachel, Monte IV, Rebekah, and Laura

You light up my life.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, R.I.P. (1950-2008)

"He (Tim Russert's father, Big Russ) wanted to make sure I knew that education was not the same as knowledge, and that there were things, important things, that regular Americans knew and educated people—especially highly educated people—often did not." - Tim Russert

Karl Rove said that he had never studied harder for a school exam as he did for a 15 minute interview on
Meet the Press with Russert. I can't think of another journalist on television who was rightfully considered more thorough, more prepared, more relentless, and more of a gentleman than this man. Without exaggeration, he was an institution.

All this being said, what speaks volumes about Russert's character is that for the last hours since his death what people who knew him well keep saying about him was how much he loved his dad (go read his book on his dad, "Big Russ & Me": a great read), loved his wife and son, loved his church, loved his life, and loved his job. O, yes, he also loved The Boss.

My first memory of Tim Russert was of his 1985 live interview of Pope John Paul II. A first of its kind. I loved how comfortable he was in his own skin, I loved his voice, I loved how respectful he was, without being obsequious.

What shocks is that he was so young. Okay, I think he was young, as he was only a little older than I am. At our age, you think, "Hey, there is still so much time, so much I can accomplish, so much I can still experience ..." But you never know when God is going to say, "Time's Up!" May we all live so that our friends can speak with such praise of our life and loves as those of Tim Russert.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Maxims and Reflections: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Goethe was an Anatomist, Botanist, Geologist, Literary genius (Faust, Italian Journey: 1786-1788, Maxims and Reflections, etc.), Pictorial artist, Translator, Theater director. During my recent travels I have been reading his
Maxims and Reflections. Thought I'd pass on some of his wisdom.

A person hears only what they understand.

Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.

If you treat an individual ... as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

It is after all the greatest art to limit and isolate oneself.

One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.

What is uttered from the heart alone, will win the hearts of others to your own.

Opponents believe they are refuting us when they repeat their own opinion and take no notice of ours.

You really only know when you know little; doubt grows with knowledge.

You can neither protect nor defend yourself against criticism; you have to act in defiance of it and this is gradually accepted.

Why do we hear such everlasting negative talk! People all imagine they’ll be giving something away if they recognize the least bit of merit.

Mastery is often seen as egoism.

Absolute activity, of whatever kind, ultimately leads to bankruptcy.

A great failing: to see yourself as more than you are and to value yourself at less than you are worth.

People who think deeply and seriously are on bad terms with the public.

Nothing is more disagreeable than a majority; for it consists of a few powerful people in the lead, rogues who are adaptable, weak people who assimilate with the rest, and the crowd that trundles along behind without the slightest notion of what it’s after.

One is never deceived, one deceives oneself.

I’m on good terms with all the people who are my immediate concern, and as to the rest, I won’t go on putting up with things from them, and that’s the end of the matter.

We’re only really thinking when we can’t think out fully what we are thinking about.

Love does not dominate; it cultivates.

He who does not see his lover’s faults as virtues is not in love.

You can’t love anyone unless you can be sure of his presence when you need him.