“I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.” – 1 Samuel 17:35
Whenever Greg and I hike with a friend, we can’t help but bring up the recent story of a hiker who barehandedly strangled a mountain lion that attacked him. Greg jokes that he always wanted to do that first, that it would have made a great story. Our own experience with lions is limited to two very tame young lions we met in Zambia, and the big male cat rolled over in boredom so that I could rub his belly. But I have been thinking more and more of the story of David these days. I always thought that David used his sling to slay the bear and lion at a safe distance from his flock – how did I miss the fact that he singlehandedly fought lions and bears? And he was such a youth that he didn’t fit into a man’s armor or merit the respect of his older brother. Yet he grabbed his sheep from a lion’s mouth, grasped the lion’s mane, and struck it to death. Wow. Another part of the story that was just piecing itself together for me was the fact that Samuel had already anointed David king of Israel. Was he confident to reach out and fight lions because he trusted God’s promise to the extent that he was certain he would make it to become king some day? Did he bound toward the lion as a type of self-testing, knowing that he would someday command troops in battle? I would have to be pretty certain of God’s promises to me to attempt that, pretty confident in the importance of my mission. Ah, but I do believe God has given me mission and vision, I believe that this is a calling and I believe that He will provide. I’ll be praying that God will not bring real lions across my path that I have to literally wrestle, but I hope that the example of David makes me a bit more confident when it comes to the more metaphorical beasts. Spiritual warfare, cultural shock, financial challenges, burdens that I try to shoulder alongside my friends – they all seem so insurmountable on certain days, certain late nights. But if God’s promises and provision could give a shepherd boy the confidence to grab a lion by the hair and kill it, then I think I can do better trusting and stepping out in faith and confidence.