One summer, I joined a bunch of other ladies on a retreat at a beautiful camp not too far from my home. The weather was sunny, the food delicious, and the friends enjoyable. The camp provided several activities, including a rock wall that led to a zip line. I have just enough of an adventurous spirit that this appealed to me. I scaled the wall, put on the required harness, and stepped onto the platform.
One single step stood between me and an exhilarating ride about one hundred yards down the field. But my courage was giving way to fear. It’s not like I was terribly high up—maybe twenty or thirty feet. But I struggled to take that last necessary step off the safe, albeit small, podium.
Fear Tries to Reign
How very little can be done under the spirit of fear. ~Florence Nightingale
When I look back over my life, I find fear raising its ugly head time and again. It likes to hide behind curtains and underneath beds, waiting for the most inopportune moment to jump out at me. To limit me. To hold me back on what it portrays as a safe platform.
It’s scary stepping off what you know to try something new, even if you don’t necessarily like where you are.
Fear inflates the worst possibilities.
Sometimes, instead of leashing us to what appears safe, fear sends us whirling in uncertainty.
I think of the movie The Wizard of Oz. Remember when Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal that the Great and Powerful Oz was nothing but a simple man pushing buttons and twirling dials? When this happens in real life, we’re left confused. Fear steals whatever courage or momentum we may have had as it points out all we did not know. Our faith gets buried in suspicion and unease.
Facing the Goliaths
None of us like it, but we all spend some time in life facing Goliaths, those problems that seem overwhelming and insurmountable. But if we take a few minutes to travel back to look at the original Goliath, you may learn something that will keep any future ones in better perspective.
The first Goliath, in the flesh.
First Samuel 17:4-7 (The Message) says,
The Philistine army had a hero named Goliath who was from the town of Gath and was over nine feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet and had bronze armor to protect his chest and legs. The chest armor alone weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. He carried a bronze sword strapped on his back, and his spear was so big that the iron spearhead alone weighed more than fifteen pounds. A soldier always walked in front of Goliath to carry his shield.
Some ancient manuscripts say he was nearly seven, rather than over nine, feet tall. Regardless, he was a big man, and a tough, highly trained soldier. I’m sure he was used to getting his way.
The first Goliath-slayer, also in the flesh.
In tremendous contrast, David was an average man. Worse, he was a young man, the youngest of his father’s sons who hadn’t even joined the Army yet. One of his brothers tried to dissuade him, as did King Saul.
Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born” (verse 33).
The proper way to fight.
But none of that deterred David. In fact, he went farther than anyone around him—even farther than choosing to face Goliath in the first place.
He fought his way. By his rules. Not Goliath’s.
Think about it. Goliath was trained in battle. He knew hand-to-hand combat, and everything about his armor was designed to protect him from sword and lance strikes. Add in Goliath’s size and incredible reach, David didn’t stand a chance up close and personal
But God had trained David differently, which exposed Goliath’s weaknesses.
David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine” (verses 34-37).
It seems to me that when that drape disappears, we discover, unlike Dorothy and her traveling companions, that behind our pretty picture of a comfortable God roars a Lion whose fierce love burns with more intensity and magnificence than anything we ever could imagine. ~Sheila Walsh, God Loves Broken People
Often, the very thing we look upon as a weakness to overcome is the very strength God has placed in us to make us effective. We just have to trust what God has put into us and the training He’s provided to us. In other words, we have to fight our Goliaths the way God wants us to, not the way the world expects us to.
You know, taking a sling and a stone to a sword fight.
The world will look at you and say you’re ridiculous or naive. That the odds are stacked against you, that you can’t possibly win.
But as long as you follow God’s lead, they’ll be wrong.
With God on our side like this, how can we lose? Romans 8:31
Deputy Fire Marshal Casandra McCarthy promised to protect the citizens of Silver Heights from fire hazards and natural disasters. But life intervenes and threatens to overwhelm her. Will she face the fear growing inside of her?
KINDLING EMBERS: She never thought she’d be raising her daughters alone. But when Deputy Fire Marshal Cassandra McCarthy’s husband died unexpectedly, she was forced to find a career. Now working beside a retired Special Operations soldier and veteran fireman, she serves her small North Carolina town, protecting them from hazards they don’t understand. But things must change.
First, a paramedic starts to work at one of her firehouses, irritating her with the most ridiculous names. And then the evidence in a series of unexplained fires points in a direction she doesn’t like. Can she continue to do her job with integrity and passion when she doesn’t like where it leads her?
IGNITING EMBERS: She thought life would settle down. Nature had a different plan. Cassandra breathed a sigh of relief once the teenagers who had been starting nuisance fires around her small town were caught. But life is rarely so simple. A hurricane rages up the eastern coastline, damaging homes and feeding floods as it goes. But evidence is mounting that the teens weren’t the only ones playing with fire. Can she prepare the town for the looming emergency and protect them from the danger living in their midst?
EXTINGUISHING EMBERS: The danger grows. Will God protect her? Hurricane Matthew left millions of dollars of destruction, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency invaded to help the community clean up and move forward. Yet in the midst of recovery, the unexplained fires grow more menacing. Cassandra works closely with FEMA to help the community and with the sheriff’s office to follow the small pieces of evidence left at each fire scene. But what will it cost her to capture the arsonist? Is he closer than she wants him to be? And will she have to give up the one relationship she’s wanted since the death of her husband?