Saturday, August 11, 2007

Grown Through Experience

Before David was king of Israel he was a warrior. Before he was a warrior David was a shepherd. It was while taking care of his father's sheep in the wilderness that David experienced God. I am certain that David had been taught about God and knew the Law and thus able to rightly apply his experiences, but these experiences of God in the wilderness is what help make David a man of faith.
34 David replied to Saul, "Your servant has been a shepherd for his father's flock. Whenever a lion or bear would come and carry off a sheep from the flock, 35 I would go out after it, strike it down, and rescue the sheep from its mouth. If it rose up against me, I would grab it by its jaw, strike it, and kill it. 36 Your servant has struck down both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them. For he has defied the armies of the living God!" 37 David went on to say, "The LORD who delivered me from the lion and the bear will also deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!" Then Saul said to David, "Go! The LORD will be with you." (1 Samuel 17:34-37, NET)

Why did David have the faith and courage to face Goliath? It was not a study on the power of God, a class on martial arts, or a contemporary worship service, but real life experience of God's power working through him. David experienced God's power first hand in his life through his confrontation with the bear and the lion, and David knew the same God who helped him defeat the dangerous animals would help him defeat the giant. Recognizing God's power in his life was crucial for David to take the next step of faith.

When I am paralyzed by fear it is not due to a lack of knowledge about who God is and the love He has for me. I know what the Bible says, I have heard sermons on the subject, and I have read books about God's power. Most of the time it is a combination of a lack of experience of God working through my life.

Sometimes I have failed to experience God's power because I have been unwilling to step out in faith. I want to be safe and comfortable and anything that might take me outside of my little comfort zone I don't like. The result is that I don't have very many bear and lion stories that I can look back on and say, "God was at work in this part of my life."

Other times I simply don't expect God to show up. Too often I think I have God figure out and so I don't expect Him to act contrary to the character I think He has. If He happens to do something unexpected it is easy for me to write it off as luck, coincidence, or to my wonderful talent. By not expecting God to show up we miss the work He is doing in the world around us.

Sometime what is missing from our lives and faith is not a new Bible study, a different church family, or a certain book, but real life experience of God working through our lives. It is this experience that helps us learn that we can trust Him with everything we have and everything we are. I believe many Christians today miss out on God and growing to maturity because we are so busy learning about God that we don't take time to experience God. Certainly study is where faith begins, but it is through experience that faith is grown.

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