Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
Ecstasy has several meanings, depending on the culture you’re in. But the kind of ecstasy we’re talking about this morning won’t kill you. In fact, it is living life to the full. Celebrate it!
I sometimes think I underestimate the strength of the celebration of life. There sometimes isn’t much celebration going around in the world in which we work and live. One reason might be the armor that people wear unconsciously to cover their hearts. While people cover their hearts to protect them, they are, at the same time, covering the flow of love through their hearts. Strangely enough, that reminded me of David and Goliath, one of the best-known stories in the Bible. I’m not so much interested in the battle they engaged in, but in what led up to it.
David showed up at a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. As was the custom in those days, the Philistines put out a champion of their army, so that they didn’t have the whole army going at it, hammer and tongs, every day. Their champion was a great giant named Goliath, who had been challenging the Israelite army. By all accounts, he was a mighty warrior of great proportion, well armed and heavily armored. David just happened to show up, bringing his brothers some provisions. In those days, you didn’t have the supply chain providing for the army—the family looked after that.
David showed up at the same time Goliath came out to challenge the Israelites to put out their champion. They were scared of this giant of a man. According to the story, Goliath had killed quite a few people. David looked at him and said, “Who is this (blank) Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David couldn’t stand it, and he was going to go out and deal with this Philistine. The Israelite soldiers said, “Well, if you really want to do this, here, we’ll get you equipped.” So they gave him armor, a helmet and coat of mail. As it was put succinctly, David “felt encumbered.”
That’s what armor does to us. That’s what defensiveness does—it encumbers us. As it was put, David trusted and loved the Lord. He loved what was highest in his heart. He put aside the armor and, as you probably remember from the story, went and got five smooth stones and his sling. He was a shepherd; he knew what to do with stones and a sling—he’d killed lions while protecting the sheep. David took the tools he had proven and dealt with this problem—an impossible problem. But he put aside the armor. He trusted the Lord; he trusted the strength in himself.
In this, there were a couple things that I took to heart. One was that the right person shows up at the right time. David just seemed to chance by, and yet he really saw the situation. His heart wasn’t encumbered. It was open to look at what was impossible by conventional means, but possible to a heart that is full of love, that is pure. He didn’t go to the conventional means: “You need to do this; you need to do that.” How often have you heard that? “Well, this is the way it’s done—you’ve got to have this or that. You’ve got to have a certain amount of education.” No, you’ve got to have a heart that burns!
It wasn’t just blind trust—David was equipped. But his was an unconventional expression of trust. He used his strength, his agility, his smarts, to deal with the problem of this giant, this impossible task. And in a sense, the way he did it wasn’t safe at all. But then it wasn’t safe for him to be in armor, either.
The thing that I come away with is that there is no safe place for a heart that’s full of fear—there is no safe place on earth. There isn’t any safe place on earth for the conventional approach. That doesn’t belong here, even though we encounter it every day. The real thing is a heart that’s full of the passion and the true nature of love. Then we can see possibilities—what could happen here and what needs to happen here. A heart full of that love welcomes the seemingly impossible. It’s our glorious answer to the impossible task.