And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded up his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook… 1 Samuel 17: 39-41
Put yourself in his shoes. Or rather, his sandals. There is a battle facing you. In many ways, it is no different or more important than the many battles that have faced you before this day. Battles with the beasts of the wilderness. In most respects, you will fight this one the same way you fought those. But, viewed from another angle, it is the most important battle of your life. There will be only one victor. If you lose, it will be the last battle you fight. Your enemy is real, and deadly. He would like nothing better than to humiliate you and your people. He will go for the jugular. He means to make this a short, decisive fight. You have one chance. And you believe one chance is all you need.
Not everyone shares your confidence. Some suggestions are made. Equipment is offered that would seem to improve your odds of surviving this thing. And, feeling your inexperience with this particular foe, you accept the offer and try on the armour. In a way, it feels safe. And while it’s a little heavy, it protects you. A good defense.
But something feels off. It takes a second to realize what it is. This armour, this defense, is too much. It’s unnecessary. Above all, it is strange. Unfamiliar. And so you shed the coat, put down the sword, unbuckle the helmet, and pick up that well worn, sweat stained, familiar sling. You do this because you understand that it is enough. Experience has taught you that this will do the job. Muscle memory takes over. Hours of practice with this one, simple tool, this strip of leather and a rock, make the difference.
Mankind is searching for new and better ways to approach, and conquer, our problems. We seek to understand motives, backgrounds, and genetics. We study and research and analyze. And then we develop a new tool, or we write another book, or we give another presentation. We become certified and licensed. We get our authority and our degree. And somehow, we think that all of this better equips us to face the giant. Maybe, in a way, it does. It is hard to argue with some of the results that are achieved when someone dedicates their life to understanding the intricacies of a particular issue.
But I also wonder if there are times when we trade the tried and true for the new and unfamiliar. We let ourselves be persuaded to try a new approach. One that has some shine to it. An armour that not only looks classy, but feels safe. One that doesn’t leave us so vulnerable. And so, we let go of that simple tool that has served us so well in the past. That familiar and well-worn weapon that our hands know. We put on the new and improved. We let all the latest research, current opinions, and data weigh us down.
I will fight in a battle today. In many respects, it will be identical to the battle I fought yesterday, or the one I will likely fight tomorrow. Viewed from another angle, it is the most important one of my life. My enemy wants my head. And my heart. I need to win this one. I must win.
I’ve been given some very simple tools. Some small, but lethal, weapons. I’ve been given a chance every day to practice my craft. They go with me everywhere. They are not expensive or extravagant. They are not hard to understand. And they are very, very effective.
“Be ye kind, tenderhearted, forgiving”. “As you would that men should do to you…” “Love your enemies, bless them…”. “If thine enemy hunger, feed him… in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire…” “God loveth a cheerful giver.” “Confess your faults…”
Simple tools. Tools that we can use. Weapons that don’t take another version or a commentary to understand. Weapons that not only make a victory a possibility, but a sure reality. A defense against not only the beasts of the wilderness, but also against the giants of the modern age.
Carry them with you. Get used to the feel of them in your hands. Practice every chance you get. And in the battle, hold on to them.
And watch the enemy run…