I’m not sure about you, but whenever I try something new for the first time, I like to be great at it. I often get frustrated if my first attempt at making a recipe turns out bad or if a project doesn’t come out the way it was pictured in the instructions. When I was little, I would ask my dad, “How did you get to be so good at cooking?” He would always say something along the lines of, “Well I’ve been doing this over and over again for the last 40 years. That’s how I got better at it.” Just like we talked about last week, in our culture we love the end result. We love the cute Instagram photo or the new life-hack you learned about last week. What we often forget to think about, is how many times was that photo taken before it was posted online? Or how many hours did that person get ready in order to feel “Instagram worthy?” Or how many years did that person play guitar, before they ever were put on a stage?
We often forget about what happens for weeks, months, or even years behind the scenes before the debut happens.
Another example of this is analog photography. Maybe you remember a time when 35mm was the only way to take photos before we had Iphones and digital cameras. The raw film is taken into the darkroom to go through a process of being projected onto photo paper, dipped in different chemicals, and then hung up to dry, before it can be put in a frame. In a sermon I heard a few years ago, Christine Caine uses the darkroom in photography as a metaphor for our lives. She mentions how for several years she was discipled at her church and spoke at smaller engagements before she ever became a world-renowned speaker. She had to develop character and history with the Lord before she could handle the weight of her calling as a preacher. I think this is a word for us today too. Are we willing to go through the process of meeting with Jesus in the secret place, so that we can handle the weight of his glory in our everyday lives? Or will we crumble because we were promoted too soon?
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about King David in 1 Samuel. Most people know about the bible story of David and Goliath, but did you know that he waited at least 15+ years between the time Samuel recognized him as the next King of Israel and when he actually became king? I think there are two significant moments from his life that are important for us today: when he was anointed as a teenager, and the crisis that took place right before he took the throne. In Samuel 16, God sends the prophet Samuel to Jesse’s house in Bethlehem out with these instructions, “you shall anoint for me him to whom I declare to you.” Basically, God says, “I’m going to tell you the right one to pick.” When Samuel gets to Jesse’s house, Jesse brings out his first son, Eliab. When Samuel saw Eliab he thought with his natural mind, “I bet this is the one!” The Lord quickly corrects him with wise insight when he tells Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).” There are so many insights I could share about this verse, but I want to focus on Samuel and God’s dialogue here. Because God could see what Samuel couldn’t, he knew that David was a better choice than his brother. Samuel could have anointed the wrong man as king because he was distracted by his natural vision and his own thoughts. If Samuel (who was an Old Testament prophet), needed God to guide him in his decision making process, don’t we need him even more?
In Proverbs 16:25 it says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Some of my biggest mistakes in life were things that looked relatively harmless on the surface, but I forged ahead without trusting where he was leading me. Last week we talked about having our desires aligned rightly so that we can experience all that God has for us, and now I am going to dive deeper into what it means to trust the growing process. Trust the process is such a cliche phrase, but an important principle for us to learn.
You would think that after David was anointed by Samuel, things would go off without a hitch, right? In fact, things got way worse before they got better. For most of his time before he became king, David was a fugitive because the previous king, Saul, was jealous that he was going to be replaced. So much so, that several times he tried to kill David. Just because he had the Spirit of God upon him, didn’t mean that his journey to becoming king was easy. Just because David had the Spirit of God upon him, didn’t mean his journey to becoming king was easy. He lost his best friend Jonathan in the process. He also had several chances to get revenge on Saul, but he knew that revenge wasn’t the right way to get what he wanted. What I find so interesting about the chapters right before he is anointed king (1 Samuel 29-2 Samuel 4) is how he handles the worst trial. In Chapter 30, David’s wives and children are kidnapped and even his own men turn against him. Literally worst case scenario. He could have started freaking out. He could have told God he couldn’t take it and tried to go back into hiding. Instead he “strengthened himself in the Lord.”
This moment where he decides to turn to the Lord in his time of need is pivotal. He knew who his God was. They had slayed bears, lions, and giants together. He knew that even when the night is dark, that the dawn is coming. We need to know this too. When our life seems less than ideal. When the job falls through. When the break-up happens. When hope is hard to hold on to. When there only seems to be darkness on the horizon, we can strengthen ourselves in Jesus. His word says our trials are temporary and they will develop in us perseverance.
Just as the story turned so dark it looked like there was no hope, the Lord gave David the strength to redeem his situation. He went after the kidnappers, and recovered everything he had lost including his two wives and children. It says in 1 Samuel 30:18, “nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.” How great is our God. Nothing was missing. Everything was returned to its original place.
There are so many more insights from 1 Samuel that I encourage you to read it yourself, but I will leave you with this.
Even when the darkness seems dark, there is no place you can go that is too far from His love.
Maybe there are things you have lost in your life because we live in a fallen world. Or maybe you have given things up in order to pursue Jesus wholeheartedly. Whatever part of your journey you’re in, know that you can trust the process, because God is writing your story. He knows every detail, and just like David’s life he is with you in the midst of your trial and he wants to promote you to your full potential in the Kingdom of God. All you need to do is learn to listen to his voice and allow his Spirit to guide you along the way.
- Soquel Filice