Goliath never stood a chance

Goliath never stood a chance.

That’s the thought that hits me, reading this Sunday’s lectionary readings. “David and Goliath,” the young shepherd boy against the heavily armed giant warrior. We learn as kids in Sunday School that this was a miracle of God’s power. It was. But perhaps not how the teachers intended.

Experts in combat and warfare will tell you. Against other heavily armored swordsmen, the well-fortified behemoth Goliath would be the likely victor. But against the quick and agile attack of a youth unencumbered by the weight of armor, armed with only a skilled sling shot and a few smooth stones, Goliath never stood a chance.

The miracle isn’t that David defeated Goliath. The miracle is that David, alone among the hundreds of others present, had the courage — the faith — to step forward and do it.

The real lesson of the story is that we can move mountains, we can overcome obstacles, when we move with the confidence of God on our side. When the faith and peace within us compels us to step up and plow through despite outward appearances, when it looks like the walls are caving in or the waves are crashing over our boats.

Jesus sleeping in the back of the boat while the storm rages and his friends are terrified, is the Gospel portion of today’s readings. Perhaps his own disciples could have stood on their own shaky legs in that boat and rebuked the storm. “We’re on a mission and you will not stop us!” Who knows? But they did not, and when they woke Jesus (“Lord, don’t you CARE that we’re sinking?”), he calmed the storm — “Peace! Be still!” — and then calmed them. “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

This is a central point in all spiritualities. We may not be able to speak magic words that transform the physical reality around us. We may not be able bend others to our will — that’s a dark art best left alone. But we have in us and with us a deep power, ready and available to be called up to see us thru those armies and those storms. A power, a voice that whispers in our moments of fear, “I am here. Now, peace! Be still!”

And something miraculous happens. Sometimes reality changes. Sometimes the giant crumbles at our feet when we hurl our stone. Sometimes the winds and the waves cease when we speak our bold words of faith. Sometimes they don’t. But a peace can rule us, can calm us, while we’re in the middle of it all, giving us a strength to ride it out. And eventually the giants go away and the winds calm down, and we are still standing. The question is, will we have kept our peace, our sanity, in the process?

This week has been one of ups and downs for me. It’s taken its toll on my emotional reserves. I’ve felt the stress and it’s exhausted me. And these lessons in the readings today reminded me of the reserve of power available to me, of the God who is “Immanuel – God with us”, the God who still speaks those words, “Peace. Be still and know that I am God.” And the sudden shift in perspective has slowed the pounding of my heart, lowered my blood pressure a bit, and allowed me to smile. I’m not in this alone. There is a power with me that sustains and gives peace.

May we all rediscover that Resource with us and in us, and claim that peace that is ours for the demanding.

refs: 1 Samuel 17:1-49; Mark 4:35-41
Photo by Astrid Schaffner on Unsplash, cc0