Tag Archives: 1 Samuel

My burning bush

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ And the Lord said to Samuel: ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.'” 1 Samuel 3:10-11

A dear friend used to tell me “sometimes God gently pokes you with a stick and sometimes he has to knock you over the head with a 2×4.”

Believe it or not, I’ve been praying for the 2×4 lately. I’ve felt like I just wasn’t seeing the subtle hints and nudges, so my prayers had turned to down-right pleading with God to spell it all out for me. Stone tablet, burning bush, angel, a giant hand writing on the wall…any Old Testament method of communication would be awesome, as long as it was loud and clear.

After waiting months for a clear sign and not seeing one, I decided to start bargaining with God. “OK, Lord, if you make this happen by such and such date, then I’ll know this is what I’m meant to do. But, if you don’t, then I’ll take your silence to mean I’m not really supposed to do that thing.”

Pretty arrogant of me, huh?

And so, this is how the last 6 months or so have been — struggling between the call I knew God had laid on my heart and my inability to accept that it didn’t look the way I thought it should. Or at least that it wasn’t happening as quickly as I needed it to.

Did you catch that? It wasn’t happening as quickly as I needed. Because I have been, in fact, making it more about me than about God.

“I want to serve you God and do all of your works, but if you can please just make it fit into this perfect little box I have envisioned, that would be awesome! And if it doesn’t look like this box, then you must not really want me to serve you in this way.”

I can so clearly see the absurdity of it now, but for the last several months I was completely blind to my self-seeking.

Thankfully God had enough of that, and this weekend He whacked me with that 2×4. But in His awesome, gentle and loving way, it didn’t feel like a blow to the head so much as a message poured straight into my heart. My burning bush came in the form of the She Speaks conference.

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This was the second year in a row I’ve attended She Speaks. Last year I learned so much and walked away feeling confident of my calling. But now here I was, a year later, and that calling wasn’t really manifesting itself the way I’d imagined and I was starting to question the direction God wanted me to take — starting to wonder if God had really placed me with a calling or a hobby.

Over the course of two days I attended multiple key-note addresses and workshops, all with completely different speakers and topics, yet I kept hearing the same message over and over again: when God calls, He determines the when, the where, and the how. All you need to remember is Who, (and it ain’t you).

As I was faced with questions like:

“Would you do it for one?”

“Are you testing God or trusting Him?” and

“Do you want to be a woman who chases after God, or after goals?”

I could no longer pretend that I had been seeking only God. The “who” in my plans had become me and not the One who had called me. I was completely wrecked, but in all the right ways. In all of the necessary ways to wake up and choose a different path.

1 Samuel 3:10

God had to call Samuel four times before he was ready and listening. Maybe I can learn something from ol’ Sam and stop at two. Or maybe I’ll mess this up again and forget Who this calling is about. I honestly don’t know. But one thing I have learned for certain is that God doesn’t stop calling just because we’re not listening. As the fabulous Lisa Jo Baker said to me this weekend, “God is forever second chances.”

I’m thankful for this second chance to follow His call, and I trust His plan is so much greater than anything I could map out for myself.

Because when you know whose you are, the when, where and how are just minor details.

When God Calls

This post was part of the #LiveFreeThursday link-up at: http://tsuzanneeller.com/2015/07/30/completely-wrecked/

What is your Goliath?

I wrote earlier this week about how my Sunday morning didn’t get off to a good start. Thankfully, with some Godly intervention, I was in a much better frame of mind once worship service started. A good thing for me because it was one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard. We’ve been studying 1st and 2nd Samuel this summer at GCC North, and most recently the story of David. This Sunday the focus was on 1 Samuel 17 which chronicles the well-told story of David and Goliath.

David and Goliath is probably one of the best-known stories in the Bible. It’s the original under-dog story, and Hollywood should thank Samuel for providing the plot line for 50% of all movies ever made. But honestly? I’ve never really found it all that applicable to my life. I mean, it’s a great example of putting your trust in the Lord, but I’ve just never been able to relate to the young shepherd boy who defeated the giant warrior with nothing but a slingshot and a prayer. This Sunday, though, my friend and Pastor, Lee Reams, managed to give us a fresh view of David and Goliath as well as some practical application.

Lee set the tone for the sermon by presenting David and Goliath…MLB style! Check out these awesome trading cards he made for our antagonist and hero:

goliath_front goliath_back
david_front david_back

On paper, David might seem an unlikely foe for the colossal warrior. But David never had any doubt he could beat Goliath. His faith was so strong, and his trust in the Lord so steadfast that he almost seemed matter-of-fact about the whole situation when speaking to King Saul. Lee broke it down into five things (a metaphor for the five smooth stones David picks up before going to the front-line) that equipped David to feel this way. They were: Perspective, Experience, Identity, Knowledge, and Child-like Faith.

Perspective – “David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). David’s faith in God allowed him to be able to look at Goliath with a different perspective. He saw him simply as a mortal man defying an all-powerful God.

Experience – “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death” (1 Samuel 17:34-35). David’s experience as a shepherd gave him strength and confidence to battle Goliath.

Identity – “He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:40). David rejected the armor Saul offered him. He knew he was a shepherd, not a soldier, and relied on the tools of his trade.

Knowledge – “And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:47). David knew that God was in charge of the situation and would protect him.

Child-like Faith – “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him” (1 Samuel 17:48). David didn’t hesitate, or weigh the pro’s and con’s of fighting Goliath, or try to plan out a detailed strategy. He just ran straight to the battle-line with complete faith that God was in control.

While all of the above are valuable tools that God has equipped us with, the one that stands out the most for me is perspective. How often in my life have I experienced challenges, struggles, hurt, or conflict that could have been avoided if I had simply altered my perspective of the situation?

Then Lee asked us to think about what “Goliath(s)” we were facing in our lives. What are those things that we feel are too big, too unbeatable? It could be an illness, a broken relationship, an addiction — anything really. I wrote down four: stress, lack of patience, the future, and my health. What startled me about my list is that it’s all me. My adversaries are all internal and they are things that (with God’s help) I can change or overcome. Do you know what that means? I am my own Goliath! And for at least the first three of my items, a little perspective could have a HUGE impact. So to help me maintain that perspective, I decided to create my own trading cards and keep them in my Bible as a little reminder. Here they are:

Jelise's trading card
Scary Jelise trading card

Stressed and impatient Jelise is not a pretty sight, huh? She’s my Goliath…looming large and scary, seemingly undefeatable. But the reality is that God has equipped me with all of the tools I need to beat her.

What is your Goliath? How can a little perspective, knowledge, experience, identity, or child-like faith help you to defeat your biggest, scariest struggles?

 

[A very big thanks to Lee Reams for allowing me to steal his sermon and use his trading card images for my blog!]