A Modern-Day David and Goliath

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As you probably know by now, I love finding spiritual lessons in everyday life. There is nothing sweeter than hearing my Heavenly Father whisper, “Are you seeing this? Do you understand?” Such an occurrence took place last week.

Barnabas and I were on our morning walk around the neighborhood. As usual, he was behaving like a perfect gentleman, and I was relishing in the months of training that finally paid off. Suddenly, I spotted a small white cat approaching us on the sidewalk ahead. At first, the feline seemed oblivious to our presence, so we continued, me being certain the cat would flee when he noticed us. I was wrong!

Not only did the cat remain on course, but he also gave no indication he saw us except that his eyes were fixed on us. No other reaction. No fluff. No hiss. No arched back. Nothing. The crazy thing didn’t even slow his pace but continued strolling toward us with confidence.

As I mentioned, Barnabas has come a long way in his training, and he usually does very well when it comes to passing by the temptation of a stray cat or running squirrel (though he is still wholly intrigued by groundhogs). His typical response is to watch and pass by without a second glance. But these were not ordinary circumstances. This was something new. I’ve never seen a cat act like this...and neither had Barnabas.  

When my mutt realized the cat’s bravery, he slowed his pace and lowered his head to glare at the cat. The feline remained calm and continued forward. At this, poor Barnabas turned and looked at me with the funniest look I’ve ever seen (and the dog can pull off some hilarious faces). He didn’t know what to think but more than that, he didn’t know what to do. I understood exactly how he felt.

Not willing to observe the showdown between my 90-pound pit bull and the 5-pound kitty, I pulled Barnabas over the ditch where we could safely pass by on the side of the road rather than the sidewalk. As the distance between the cat and us grew, Barnabas’ eyes never wavered. He watched the cat as the cat watched him, still unfazed by the giant coming his way. Then I noted in amazement as my huge dog nudged me in the opposite direction of the coming feline. As I inched further into the road, I realized Barnabas was no longer amused. He was afraid. He was ready to get away from that crazy cat who was now staring at us from the corner of his eye as we passed. With a final glance over his shoulder, Barnabas took off across the street, dragging me in his wake.

The entire ordeal only lasted a couple of minutes, but the whole time I was thinking about David and Goliath. Barnabas could definitely pass for a Goliath (though he is much sweeter), and the cat, well, as far as size is concerned, he was a David. Despite the difference in size, the cat seemed unafraid. He was unmoved by the giant before him and continued to press on. In the case of David and Goliath, the shepherd boy defeated the giant and chopped off his head. Lovely! In the case of dog versus cat, the cat also defeated the dog. Not with a sword, a sling, or a stone, but with courage. His boldness in the face of a giant so bewildered and confused my poor pup that Barnabas ended up being the one to run in fear. I’m guessing he figured if the cat could be that brave in his presence, then the cat must know something he didn’t. It was enough to shake the confidence of my curious canine.

The incident left me wondering how often we could defeat our enemies by simply being bold and courageous. How often could we send Satan and his minions scampering by merely holding fast to God’s promises and marching confidently no matter what giants we face? How many times would our giants fall because of our firm stance on the Word of God?  

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to find out. I’m tired of always being the one afraid. I’m sick of being the one to back off or run and hide. I’m fed up with allowing the enemy to get the best of me. It’s time for a change. It’s about time I stood up to my giants. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? No one! Not even a giant. Or a rather large pit bull.

Being a dog person, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I want to be like the white cat. I want to walk courageously, confident in the One who walks with me. I don’t want to flinch, balk, or turn away. I want to walk the path God has for me no matter what giants are lingering in my path. I want to have such an air of confidence and courage about me that the enemy runs the other way at my approach. “Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
— Isaiah 41:10

The Contagious Courageous

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The military officer paces before his loyal troops.  “Today, we face the greatest enemy we have ever encountered.  We are outmanned and outgunned, but we are all that stands between our foe and the fair land we call home.  This mission is unlike any we’ve embarked upon before, but I have surrendered to answer the call.  I cannot and will not order you to follow, but I wonder, are there any among you who will join me in the fight?”

For several moments, the soldiers survey the faces of those around them.  Fear.  Indecision.  Shame.  Finally, a single warrior steps forward and proclaims, “I will go with you.”  Within a few seconds, another steps forward and then another until, finally, each soldier has joined the fight.

What made the difference?  What motivated the fearful warriors to risk their lives?  Their decision could be attributed to the love of their country, the respect for their commander, or even the moving speech given by their superior officer.  But I believe the most significant contributing factor to their decision to go forward was the courageous stand of one of their fellow soldiers.  A single man compelled an entire army to throw caution to the wind when he dared to step forward.  You could say his "courageous" was contagious.

Few of us want to be the first to take a stand, but as Christians, that’s what we’ve been called to do.  We are soldiers in the Lord’s army, and we ought to motivate others to take a stand that makes a change.  We ought to be the first to step up and say, “I’ll go.”  And if we’re concerned about standing alone, we need not be.  First off, the Bible assures us we are never alone.  God is on our side, and He will never leave us or forsake us.  But not only that, when we dare to take a stand, we inspire others to do the same.  Our "courageous" becomes contagious.

Just imagine how we could impact the world today if each of us were willing to step forward and join the mission.  Consider how many others we might inspire by our bold obedience to the call of Christ.  

Our Commander is asking, “Who will join me in this fight?”  How will you respond?

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
— Psalm 31:24

Sailing the Seven C's - Claim God's Word

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For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
— Acts 27:23-25

After encouraging his fellow sailors and ensuring them of their safety, Paul explains how he knows all will be well. First, he urges them to not be afraid, which I imagine caused a few looks of ridicule and even caused some men to question Paul’s sanity. But he clarifies why and how they can have peace despite the raging storm. God had sent an angel and told Paul that all the people would be saved, and the word of the angel was enough for Paul. Catch that phrase, “I believe God.” Hallelujah!

How much different would our lives be if we made that statement every time doubt came knocking at our door? How much easier would it be to stand fast if we didn’t allow the waves of fear to shake us because we believe in the One who reigns over the rain? When was the last time you stood up to your feelings of insecurity, disappointment, and despair and said, “I know things look bleak, but I believe God, and I know we’ll get through this”?

Jason and I had an interesting conversation about my anxiety a few days ago. On the whole, my anxiety has improved over the past year, but there are still days (and sometimes even weeks) where it grips me so hard I can barely function. As I tried to explain this to my understanding husband, I realized something. I have a wild imagination. My thought process is creative and unique. And, as a writer and speaker, the creativity and unhindered imagination are wonderful attributes to have. However, my mind seems to have no “off” switch, nor does it have a lever that I can flip so that only positive thoughts run wild. The same brain that creates devotions from everyday events and weaves stories of intrigue and adventure also contrives some of the darkest nightmares and scariest scenarios. A simple walk in the woods can turn into a horrendous bear attack with blood and screams and hopelessness. That’s the downside of creativity, I guess. It doesn’t distinguish between good and bad, positive and negative, hopeful and hopeless.

But here’s the thing: those thoughts and feelings are not now nor will they probably ever be real. Most of the things my mind comes up with are events that haven’t happened and most likely never will. It’s just my imagination running wild and taking my feelings along for the ride. But it’s during those times more than ever that I need to return to what is true. I have to look beyond what I feel to what I know. For the sake of my sanity and overall well-being, I must turn to God’s Word.  

And, if you noticed the wording I used at my title, “Claim God’s Word.” Claim it. Don’t just read it. Don’t simply recite it. Don’t merely memorize it. All of those things are admirable, but they will do us little good if we don’t claim it. We need to take God’s promises and say, “Here’s what God said, and I believe it!” We should tell ourselves that over and over until we finally get it. We should tell our fears. We should tell Satan. We should tell anyone and everyone who will listen. I BELIEVE GOD!

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
— Numbers 23:19

Why can we trust God? Because he’s not like us. He doesn’t twist the truth when it’s convenient or tell us only what we want to hear. He doesn’t make empty promises or waste words. If He said it, it’s true. It is not in His nature to lie. He is truth itself (John 14:6); therefore, it is impossible for Him to say or do anything untrue. His promises can be trusted.

So, because God said in Jeremiah 29:11 that He intends peace and not evil toward us, we can know that whatever storm we’re facing is not God’s idea of a cruel joke.

When He promised in Romans 8:28 that all things would work together for good for those who love God, He meant all things, including the current storm.

Since He assured us repeatedly throughout the Scriptures that He would never leave us or forsake us, we can trust that we’re never alone no matter how lonely we may feel in the midst of our trial.

Every promise. Every word. Every assurance. It’s all true, and we can put our trust in that. We can’t count on our intelligence or our strength to get us through. Those things fail. But God’s Word never fails. It is forever settled in Heaven, and it is never-changing. Trust. Claim. Stand up, face your storm, and shout with conviction, “You cannot destroy me because I believe God!” Then watch in wonder as the God of the storm does what only He can do. Watch Him fulfill His promises to you.