By John Oberon
I had a train of thought the other day, and I'd like to let it run past the depot of your eyes.
If I had to choose the most well-known biblical story, David and Goliath would probably be in my top five. I think one of the reasons for its fame is the idea of the underdog winning in a big way. We love it when the dark horse wins or the small town boy makes good. It's good triumphing over evil despite insurmountable odds. It's exciting, and it gives us hope that the same thing could happen in our own lives, if only in a limited way.
You know what always puzzled me about that story? The bible is relatively silent on the reaction of David's friends and family on his determination to fight Goliath. Here's how I would have reacted if David were my brother: "Are you insane? Have you seen the size of that guy? Have you seen his spear? He'll gig yo like a frog and have you for an hors-d'ouvre. Besides, the king's not going to let you fight him anyway. It's winner take all. Do you think the king's going to risk the entire army of Israel on a battle between a gnat and an elephant? Get real. Show some sense. You can't win, and I can't believe you're even considering this course of action."
Now I'd like to move you forward a few thousands years to a somewhat similar David-Goliath confrontation that actually happened in Columbus. which elicited precisely the same reaction from me. Picture a giant fully twice as tall as his opponent and outweighing his peanut-sized adversary by over six times. The giant is easily ten times stronger with agility, knowledge, wisdom, and experience far exceeding that of the pygmy approaching him. I think, "Is this little pint-sized Spartan actually thinking of victory? What a laugh!"
But the battle commences, nonetheless. The giant points to some scissors the dwarf holds and says, "Give me those. You're going to hurt yourself."
The dwarf clenches the scissors tighter and pitifully whines, "Nooooo...".
The giant steps toward the dwarf and says with authority, "Give them to me. Now."
The dwarf (who is female, by the way) backs away, hides the scissors behind her back, and says, "But I want it."
Now the giant begins the attack in earnest, but the dwarf implements evasive maneuvers. She runs from the giant, but he easily catches her and takes the scissors from her, but not before she pokes her hand with them. There is no blood, just pain. She cries, but it does not prevent the giant from administering understanding to the seat of learning before comforting her.
Doubtless, every one of you fellow giants, known as parents, experience similar contests with your small children. Hopefully, they grow less with time, but that's not always the case. It just shows the stubborn, sinful nature living in us all, and the strength with which we cling to it in the face of all reason and common sense.
I don't know about you, but God always seems to show me something about myself while I parent my children. How many times has God approached me about something in my life? "Let Me have that," He says.
And standing before the most powerful force in the universe, I ball my little fists and say, "No."
He comes closer and says, "You'll hurt yourself. Give it to Me."
"No, I won't," I say. I back away and start mortaring bricks to keep Him away from that corner of my life. "I know what I'm doing. It's not hurting me. You'll hurt me if You take it away. Besides, it's such a small thing; it doesn't occupy very much space. It's very compact and efficient. And see? It goes with the rest of my decor, don't You think? Kind of livens the place up. And everyone has it. It's very popular. Why, how odd would I be if I didn't have it? And look here, it's welded to the floor - I couldn't give it to You if I wanted to. And.."
And...and...and. On and on, I reel off the reasons against giving God what He wants. But He stands resolute and silent, waiting patiently.
I wheedle and bargain, cry and manipulate. "How about a portion of it? And I mean a big portion! You can have all the unpleasant and ugly aspects of it, maybe even some of the somewhat pleasant aspects. Look, see? I'm unbricking those parts, see? But the parts that really please me - the juicy, succulent parts - I'll keep those, OK? Now there's a deal most others wouldn't make, don't You think?"
He stands unmoved and says, "All or nothing."
The trouble with this confrontation is that God will let me have my way. He does not beg or plead, or chase me down and force to to do His will. C. S. Lewis once wrote that in the final equation, there's only two kinds of people..those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."
Yet He is so patient and kind. What if God fathered me the way I father my children? God save me from that! How many times do I lose my temper or lacerate my kids with cutting remarks? How often do I ignore them, tell them to "go find something to do", or put work ahead of them? God says He'll show mercy to the merciful, and that the pure of heart will find Him pure. What if he decides to father me as I father? Would I spend eternity longing for God, trying to draw His attention but garner only a few rare moments? Would I wither beneath His critical gaze, or crumple under His angry glare? Would He thunder me to my knees? What would He do if He fathered as I father?
Let a prayer be the caboose of this train of thought: Gently, my Lord, gently deal with me, yet relentless, for it's winner take all. Slay my sin and hoist its head in victory. Shout the warrior's cry as Your bloodied sword flashes in the sun. Defeat my sin utterly, for it holds me tight. Hack away each clutching tentacle and release this son to the arms of his true Father.