Over the past few years, I have run several distance events. Running a marathon is truly like eating an elephant . . . you cannot do it in one sitting, but you devour it a bite at a time. What this means is that it takes me a minimum of 5 months of training at least 4 days a week with increasing levels of intensity in order to prepare for the race day.
While I am training, I view my life differently. No longer is exercising an option. It is a mandatory part of my week. If I skip a training run, I am putting my preparation in jeopardy. You simply can’t catch up in training for a distance event. Time and consistency are needed to cross the finish line. Therefore, I run at least 4 days a week while I am in training.
What is interesting, however, is that when the training is over, I tend to slow down my exercise schedule. By “slow down” I really mean “grind to a halt.” While I run 4 days a week in training, I might run no days a week in the off season. (NOTE: This is not a preferred exercise plan, just the reality of my lazy life.) Seeing my life as “in training” gives me the focus and goal to do what I need to do.
As I read the biblical account of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17, I noticed that David had been in training for a long time for his encounter with Goliath. David’s training program, however, was rather unique. If we were training David for a battle with a giant, we might assume that David needed lots of combat experience in order to succeed. David, however, had seen zero combat time before his battle with Goliath. As a matter of fact, he was not even in the army! He had not even gone to boot camp! David’s preparation for his battle with Goliath came not from a soldier’s shield but with a shepherd’s staff. Listen to how David describes his preparation for battle to King Saul in 1 Samuel 17:37, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of Philistine.” David was saying that his experience tending sheep and protecting his flock from animals had prepared him to take down the giant.
Now, some may want to scoff at David’s “training” plan. Surely David did not think that animals in the field were the same as trained warriors like Goliath! If David were submitting his resume to Saul to be hired in the job of “Giant Killer” he would have been rejected because of a lack of relevant experience. This perspective may make sense to a lot of people, but it is a huge misunderstanding the situation. David’s experience as a shepherd was ABSOLUTELY RELEVANT for his conflict with Goliath because the same One who won victory against the animals would empower David against the Philistine. David had learned to trust God in the fields of bleeting sheep, so he was well trained for trusting God on the fields of battling soldiers.
David’s experience is very instructive for us. It reminds us that God is building into each of us faith today for tomorrow’s “battles.” This means that our lives are currently “in training.” Sometimes we think of our current lives as lacking meaning or purpose. Because of our perception of our current lives, we can fail to live life faithfully today, because we assume it does not matter. Like me only exercising “in season,” so we sometimes wait to walk with God in only the “exciting seasons” of our lives. The reality however, is that our lives are always “in season” as God is always training us to trust Him today to prepare us for tomorrow’s trials.
You learn to trust God with your marriage by trusting God as a single person. You learn to trust God as a parent by trusting Him with your marriage. You learn to trust Him with your job by trusting Him at home, etc. All our experience is relevant experience in so far as it teaches us to walk faithfully with our God. Viewing our lives as “in training” gives us added incentive and focus to walk with God today.
Last Sunday, this point was one of three points of application that we looked at from this familiar Bible story as a part of our “Father’s Stories” series at Wildwood. The three main ideas from the message were that we needed to:
1. Listen in life with spiritual ears (1 Samuel 17:22-26)
2. Learn in life with spiritual experiences (1 Samuel 17:33-37)
3. Lean in life with spiritual expectations (1 Samuel 17:38-51)
Just a couple of days removed from this message, I am curious: what other questions or personal applications have you considered in response to this message? Comment back to this post and let us know!