2 Samuel 5: 10 (the message)
David proceeded with a longer stride, a larger embrace since the God-of-the-Angel-Armies was with him.
This verse really stopped me this morning. Perhaps in part because of the way it is written…it brought to mind the image of a person advancing in strength and confidence. If you read through 1st Samuel it becomes ever so clear that David was not a timid guy! Even as a young man, years before he was king, David confronted Goliath in a boldness that seems foolish. Yet as I read the words of David: “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of the God-of-the-Angel-Armies…” (1Sam 17:45 the message) I hunger to know God and abandon myself to this kind of bold belief. I have wondered what made David this way? Why was He so bold and determined to do God’s will? What inspired or stirred in him…what gave David such certainty God would come through?
Consider the years of David’s youth. A teenage shepherd boy tending the sheep, alone on the hillsides and I’ll bet anything he was composing songs, playing his harp and worshipping even then! I just bet that those years with the smelly sheep, the less “flashy” assignment, were the opportunity of a lifetime. David got to know God on those hillsides. And because He actually knew God, not just about Him, David had something on the inside that would spur him on to follow hard after God, waste himself, for the purposes of God and knowing Him more.
See, I might attend church for a God I admire. I might try to be a good person for a God I know about. I might even give some of my income to the church or donate to charity because it’s what a religious person does. I might volunteer in the nursery or help park cars because I know I need to do my part. Sure, I will acknowledge in various ways a God I know about, one I even admire and believe in. I will work within my comfort zone for the God I know about on Sundays in the pew.
But what about the God I grow to love on the hillsides of my daily life? What about the God I give my heart to in worship when no one else is watching? What about the God I love and adore, from whom a mere whisper is the soothing balm for my weary soul? For Him, I will do battle. For Him, I will face the giant. In Him, I will proceed with “a longer stride, a larger embrace” outside of my comfort zone because truly the only place I can find comfort is in His presence. For the God I know through my own experience on the hillsides, I will knowingly walk into circumstances that shatter my pride and sense of self…my ego, my ability, my rights, my fears. For the God I know is the God I trust. There on the hillside I learn first-hand that having His love wash over my wounds will heal me and make me whole. Sensing His peace, being filled with His Spirit, on the Hillside becomes my life’s greatest pursuit. Nothing else can quench the thirst for knowing Him, really knowing Him, and so I follow. I advance on the giant, I enter into battle, not because of anything I have to prove or with self-made weapons. I just follow where He leads. I know Him. He is good and strong and loves me. He is the safest place I could ever be…even in the midst of battle. If I live my life inside the perimeters of safety and comfort without His hand upon me I have missed out, forever, on the purpose of living. But if I experience even a taste of Him on the hillside…if I’m willing to really get to know Him there…I will follow after Him all the days of my life. I gain God-confidence and my bold belief grows as I spend time on the hillside. There He heals me and talks to me. He gently reveals my brokeness and if I am willing to pour myself out for Him, He fills me with a peace and love that only leaves me wanting more.
I could spend my whole life acknowledging the God I know about and live with a subtle dissatisfaction. The misery of attempting to live, in my own strength, up to the expectations of a God I know about. Attempting to conform to the mold of “good christian” while staying in my comfort zone. Living with an itch I can’t scratch. Lying down at night with a vague awareness that my heart does not really burn with the passion for Jesus that I try to project. I could live my whole life and go to Heaven one day having lived for a God I know about. Or I could let God stir in my heart a hunger for something more. Take a chance that maybe, just maybe, the more time I spend on the hillside getting to know Him the less palatable my old comfort zone will be. The more I know Him the less it will matter what others think. The more His love frees me and heals me the less I will hold back from Him.
Take a minute and let God speak to your heart. Let His love draw you outside. Do you smell the green grass? Do you see the beauty of the rolling hills? Do you hear the sheep? Only there will you find rest. Only there will you know Him for yourself. Only there can you fall so hopelessly in love with Jesus that when He leads you into battle you face your giant in boldness because you trust Him. Only there can your embrace grow larger, your stride longer. We can go through the motions and pretend our whole lives that we have something we don’t. Or we can walk the hillsides with Jesus and have the love affair of a lifetime.