He was young and inexperienced. Those who knew him best had no confidence in him, and mocked him. To everyone else it looked an impossibility. What he was up against was an enormous challenge. It was a threatening situation, and no one else was willing to face it. But the main thing he had going for him was that he trusted in God.
Many of those who regularly read what I write come from small churches facing difficulties and challenges. There is little to encourage us humanly. It is easy to be gripped by a fear of failing, so often we have low expectations and endeavour far too little. We dream of what it might be like if only our congregation was twice the size it is and the average age two decades younger. We are all too aware of what we lack when we consider the challenges that face us and the task before us.
You may have heard it said that if you think that you or your church are too small to be significant, then you probably have never spent a night in a room with a mosquito!
Did you realise who I was writing about in the opening paragraph? It was David, while still a young man. Day after day, Goliath had shouted out his challenge, taunting the army of Israel. Day after day, the strongest and best in Israel’s army shrank back from the challenge. Perhaps this was personal fear of coming against such a huge man with such an arsenal of weapons. Perhaps it was fear of failure. Perhaps it was the awfulness of the consequences of failure. Whatever it was it immobilised them.
Actually, apart from his confidence in God’s enabling him, David had several things going for him. For a start, he was young and agile. As long as he kept out of range he could probably avoid being hit by a spear. He certainly was never going to put himself in range of Goliath’s sword. Beside his spear, Goliath only had a short-range weapon, while David had a deadly medium range weapon which he could use with precision. If it was an uneven contest, it was tilted in David’s favour. Shepherds had plenty of time to hone their skill with a sling. A typical stone might be the size and weight of a cricket ball, and would leave the sling at around 100 miles per hour.
David also had experience of past victories. David testifies to past victories that encourage him to take on this latest challenge. He had proved God to be faithful in past difficult times.
David was concerned for the honour of God’s name, and it was this that motivated him to volunteer. David also had confidence in the power of God’s name, and it was in that name that he approached Goliath. Frankly, Goliath never stood a chance!
Some years ago, I had the privilege of being one of two people representing churches in Europe in a conference on evangelism run by the World Council on Mission mainly for churches in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. During the week, each representative informed the others of their activities and outcomes. We heard amazing things where Christians and churches experienced political opposition and oppression or where they were a minority faith surrounding by majority faith which sometimes were aggressive. Despite all that opposed them they were bold in their witness of Jesus and were seeing conversions regularly. My colleague from Holland and I were ashamed to share our story, where the only significant problem was to a post-Christian culture, but where apathy meant that so little was done by the churches to engage in evangelism.
Are we like the army of Israel; frozen in fear? In these days when our faith is often ridiculed and few take us seriously, are we concerned for the honour of God’s name and therefore motivated to engage in Christian witness and missional activity. Is it embarrassment or fear of failure that cause us to do so little? Or could it possibly be that we have no confidence in God?
There is not one church that does not have the opportunity to do more for God. In my experience, God piles these up faster than we could grasp them. But surely, we could grasp at least one a week! A man called David Wiiley wrote, “Too often, we miss out on opportunities in this life because we were too busy waiting for them to fall into our lap that we missed them tapping on our shoulder.”
Why not take some time each day this week to read afresh 1Samuel 17: 1-51, then, with the story fresh in your mind say, “And David’s God is my God”, then set yourself a missional task.
From the Diary
Last Sunday (13th), Doreen and I went to Newark in Nottinghamshire where I took the morning meeting for London Road Congregational Church. Several testified to God’s blessing that morning.
Monday to Friday (14th – 18th), I helped to lead “Holiday at Home” for the churches in Market Harborough. This involved four half days of activities and more for older people in the community, many of whom would not normally have a decent holiday. Those who came were effusive in their expressions of appreciation. It is not an overtly evangelistic programme but another member of the team and I led a God spot each day and made clear why the programme had been arranged, and we shared the gospel on each occasion.
Saturday 19th, I shared in a team meeting offering mission support for 32 churches in the East Midlands. It was good to be able to share encouraging news and build plans for the future.
Sunday 20th, Welby Lane Evangelical Church, Melton Mowbray.
Monday 21st, I will share in a meeting in Market Harborough exploring how to make church more inviting. Afterwards I plan to go to Leicester for a workshop on crowd-funding.
Tuesday 22nd, HMP Gartree. Please pray for the men I will meet with, and that my security clearance will be updated soon.
Thursday 24th, I will be chairing a meeting for a small rural church with a historic building with a thatched roof in urgent need of repair.
25th to 27th – A free weekend!
Please keep praying. Each day I am likely to be involved in writing or responding to phone calls to support rural evangelism. Please pray for our financial needs in Rural Mission Solutions as recent changes to our bank have disrupted our already limited income. Rural Mission is certainly a forgotten mission field, and we urgently need to grow our prayer base and supporter network.
Finally, if you find these Prayer & Praise News helpful in any way, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or post to The Centre for Rural Mission, 4 Clarence Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7NE. Recently, some postings have led to people asking if they can use what I write in the context of their own ministry. The answer is, “Of course”, but it is encouraging to know that it is valued by the readers.
Thanks for reading this. Remember, David’s God is your God too.
19th August 2017