There is a story about a boy, but not just a boy, a shepherd. He stood watch over his flocks day and night, protecting them from whatever might come to harm them. Lions and bears, he would fight off, with his bare hands, if necessary, for he had no weapons of war. No sword, no gun, no armor. But, what he had, that was enough.
The boy grew to be strong and courageous out there in the fields, watching and protecting what he loved against all that would harm it. You know this boy, for his story made him famous. His name was David and when all others trembled in the face of fear before a giant enemy, David did not.
The story goes this way:
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. ~ 1 Samuel 17:32-50
David did not fear lions or bears because he had defeated them with his bare hands.
But sometimes there is a tiger in our midst. And, with Dorothy of Oz, we are afraid — duly afraid of the three: lions, TIGERS, and bears, oh my! The lion and the bear maybe we can handle, but that tiger…
Didn’t stop David. That boy had been battling lions and bears for years. The tiger Goliath? He is just a striped lion. “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this (Tiger).”
David met Goliath and walloped him, with just a sling a few smooth stones. For “it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s.”
No matter who or what is your tiger today, may your battle be the Lord’s.
I just can’t imagine God saying, “Sit down and shut up!” Can you?
Or, “Children should be seen and not heard.”
Or even, “Sit still and mind your manners.”
Yes, we are children, daughters and sons of the Most High. But, “sit up and eat your peas,” just isn’t the conversation I expect to have at the table with God. Odd, though, that if we grew up in harsh strictness and belittledness, if we were ignored, disrespected, or God help us, abused, this notion of being children at the right hand of a father takes on an unwelcomeness. In self-preservation we learn to keep quiet and stay out of the way.
God has never been a God of self-preservation. Certainly not for children.
Yes, holy discipline surely is God’s kindness, that we learn to observe boundaries, respect rules and honor elders helps it go well for us. But sit still and be quiet … that just doesn’t feel like God to me.
In the space at God’s feet there is plenty of space to get the wiggles out. I imagine God chortles at my antics and shakes a head at my mischief, but confines me to one square foot on the rug? Nah. No loving parent would think that a good thing for a child.
And I am that Child.
To me, God has always said, go ahead and move. It’s way easier, then, to guide me in the right direction. That way, overcoming inertia will never be God’s problem with me.
My book, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies, takes this approach. God made us to move and, through movement, to learn about and grow into ourselves. Of course, once we’re mature, a good dose of self discipline can help us still the outside so we can attend to the movement inside.
Lungs…expanding and releasing.
Muscles…stretching and lengthening.
Joints…relaxing and allowing.
Blood… coursing and flowing.
Thoughts…expanding and defining.
And there’s life itself, feeling kind of like it did when we were a kid. I am God’s kid and so are you. Let’s go ahead and act like it.
“You can make people feel,” he told me. That’s high praise, coming from a world famous poet and a marvelous compliment coming from a person who is in touch with “all the feels.”
But it’s not me “making people feel.” The stories I share and the way I share them is thanks to the people who have inclined me to open the door to my feelings and offered a safe space for me to feel them. It’s my gratitude for these lessons learned, messages communicated, insights shone, and perspectives gained that spills onto the page.
My new book, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through our Bodies comes out in February. It is a “devotional workbook” for individuals and small groups but not your typical book of devotions. It’s not a daily, Jesus Calling, kind of reading to assure you that Jesus loves you and God will never leave you, though I subscribe to both of those beliefs.
No, this book is really, well, I guess its the product of the practice of writing thank you notes that my mother began in me all those years ago. It started me writing notes to people who I thought deserved a thanking. And not just the canned version:
Thank you for ______.
I’ll use it for _________.
I really appreciate it.
But the real version — the “felt” version — written with the Lord’s guidance, letting a heart that was truthfully grateful take the lead. Somehow, gratitude lets us turn the knob on the door to a passageway we didn’t know existed. It opens onto the hallway of feeling. All feelings. None prohibited. It is a safe zone where trust can abide and healing reigns.
Because feeling can be hard. It can be gut-wrenching and head-spinning, earth-shattering and life-altering. But, it can also be breathtaking and awe-inspiring, heart-healing and life-giving. Life offers us the opportunity to turn the knob and enter in, not knowing what we will find on the other side.
The courage to do this doesn’t come from the author who invites you in, but from the Author of Life who is there to facilitate your discovery. Whatever you find there, I will help you handle. Whatever you need there, I will supply. Because I will be with you in the feeling, the you who emerges will be changed.
I don’t “make people feel.” I invite people, through words birthed in gratitude, to experience their feelings and then to be healed by the only Healer I know whose work lasts forever.
My book is a thank you note to the world. Each page, a person. If it “makes you feel,” I am grateful because I know God’s grace is at work in that space between gratitude and glory.