Tip #6 – Grow your faith

Is your house like most?  Is there a wall or a doorjamb with little pencil marks on it, signifying that growth has taken place.  We had that wall in the house where I grew up.  What we didn’t have was a variety of little marks – because I never grew.  In fact, when I started the ninth grade I was only 4’9″ tall.  (In case you’re wondering, car booster seat laws are now in effect for kids up to 4’9″ inches tall.  Thank goodness this is a new thing.  How embarrassing would it have been as a freshman in high school to have grabbed my booster seat any time I road home with someone else’s mom!)

Fortunately I started to grow that year – and in the next 18 months added 11 inches.  Since that only got me to 5’8″, I hesitate to say that I am much of an expert on growth, but I can offer a few thoughts.

  • Growth takes time.  It takes a summer to grow a vegetable.  It takes up to 18 months to grow a puppy.  And it took 16 years to grow me to my full height.  When God wants to grow us, He knows it’s going to take some time.  When God asks us to wait, He may be providing that time.  And by slowing down the rest of your life He may actually be speeding up your growth rate.
  • Growth requires food.  We really can’t grow ourselves – otherwise I wouldn’t have stopped growing when I did.  And the same is true spiritually.  I really can’t grow myself.  But I can feed myself.  And the waiting time is a great time to slow down and eat.   It’s often a great time to spend extra time in the Word or in prayer.  And as we do that, our faith starts to grow.

We know that at least seven of David’s psalms were written during the time that he was waiting to be king.  He took advantage of that time to grow his relationship with God.  And by doing so, he managed to get somewhere while he was going nowhere.

When all the dust of life settles, the real issue is going to be our relationship with God.  That’s going to matter more than anything else, more than all that stuff that we’re waiting for and frustrated about.  The real issue won’t be whether or not we sold our house or found a spouse or got a new job.  The real issue will be how close we grew to God.

Are you tire of going nowhere?  You can get somewhere.  Just do what David did.

1.  Keep your sheep.
2.  Play your harp.
3.  Slay your giant.
4.  Build your army.
5.  Wait your turn.
6.  Grow your faith.

Tip #5 Wait your turn

Has anyone else noticed the recent phenomenon of 4-way stop sign drafting?  Here’s how it works.  You creep your car up real close to the one in front of you at a 4-way, and then when that car gets its turn and goes – you go with it.  Bumper to bumper.  Very economical I’m sure – it saves both on gas and on time.

David was a guy who got stuck at one of the intersections in life, but instead of pushing his way through, he chose to wait his turn – even though it added years to the delay.  And even though he twice had the opportunity to do something about ending his wait. On two different occasions David came across a sleeping Saul and had an easy opportunity to accelerate the process of becoming king.  One thrust of a spear and Saul’s throne would have been empty.  Plus, he could always claim self-defense.  But David said no.

He waited.  He didn’t force things.  He didn’t make a decision that he would later regret.  He didn’t take matters into his own hands.  Instead he waited.  He waited for God.

This is one of the most important and yet most difficult steps to take when you are stuck in life and seemingly getting nowhere.  Every thing in you wants to move forward, but that might be the worst thing to do at the moment.  There might be a very good reason that God has you waiting, and if you choose to run the stop sign, you’re going to put the entire process in danger.

Sometimes faith asks you to step out, to take action, to do something daring.  And sometimes faith asks you to be still, to do nothing, and to wait for God to show up.  The latter is often the hardest.

Charles Spurgeon spoke to this issue when he said that the word wait describes almost the whole of the Christian life,

“…for rightly understood, waiting is active as well as passive, energetic as well as patient, and to wait upon the Lord necessitates as much holy courage as warring and fighting with his enemies.”

I love that.  Waiting takes more courage than going to war.  It’s hard stuff.

Moses couldn’t wait and ended up with a murder on his record.  Saul couldn’t wait and lost a kingdom.  Abraham couldn’t wait and we’re still dealing with that mess today.

I know that it doesn’t make sense to say that the best way to get somewhere while you are going nowhere is to wait patiently.  That seems like a big nowhere, doesn’t it?  But remember, the place that you’re trying to get to may not be the place where God is trying to take you – and if you are going to get to the place that He wants you to go, you may have to wait patiently.

David did.  He could have taken matters into his own hands – but he refused.  And guess what, he still got to be the king – when God thought he was ready.

Tip #4 Build your army

In David’s day in Israel, the king was also the general of the army.  He was the one who led (or who didn’t lead at times) the army into battle.  But when David became king, it wasn’t necessary to turn the royal army over to him.  He already had his own army; he’d been collecting the guys that he would go to war with all along – all during the wait.

We hear about his army in I Samuel 22:2 when David was hiding in the cave of Adullam.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader.  About 400 men were with him.

We get the names of many of them in I Chronicles 11.  These 400 men became a great fighting force winning victories at Keilah and at Ziklag.  Most victories are team efforts.  These were the guys that David fought beside, laughed with, suffered with.  These were the  guys who made David better.

Our success in life is largely dependent on our success in relationships.  That being true, we need to focus on developing healthy relationships with people – recognizing that they will become our armies.    Every person has something that he can contribute – learn to take advantage of that opportunity.  A little over a year ago I started working on building my army – specifically trying to make connections with other pastors.   My army now includes Shannon, Patrick, Darrin, Darril, Scott, Doug, 2 Daves, 2 Robs, 2 Bobs (I guess Robert is a pastoral name?) and Trent.  These are in addition to some pastor friends I already had like Craig and Rustin and Tim.  Each one of these guys has added something to my life.  And some of them continue to be very important players.

But relationships go both ways.  There are people in your world whose lives you can make better.  They might be in your family, your church, your work place – but you can bring something to the table that they can use.  You can offer them affirmation, know-how, company, encouragement, prayer, etc.   You better believe that those men were following David because he was offering them something, too.

Sometimes relationships are hard.  They take time.  They take a certain vulnerability.  They take selflessness.  They take intentionality.  But if you’re going to win the battle of life, you’re going to need an army.  And you can gather one of those even in the waiting times of life.  That’s when David built his.

So build your army – and you’ll get somewhere, even while you’re going nowhere.

Tip #3 – Slay your giant

If you were to ask David what the biggest moment of his life was, he would likely say the killing of Goliath.  But here’s what I love about the story – it happened before David became king.  Long before.  It happened while he was waiting, while he was going nowhere.  But with his victory he got to a pretty big somewhere.

David started out that morning with the simple task of taking some food to his brothers, but when he arrived on the battle field (or the insult field, there didn’t seem to be much battle going on), he was just in time for Goliath’s daily spiel and the Israelites’ daily retreat.  But it didn’t settle well with him, so he decided to do something about it.  Something crazy.  Something bigger than he could handle.

He picked up five smooth stones.  Why stones?  That’s what he was good with.  Use your gifts.  Why five?  I think because he was expecting a fight.  Don’t expect it to be easy.  Just go to battle.

What are the giants that have been standing in your way lately?  It’s time to go after them.  But know this, it might not go smoothly.  You’ll have people all around you telling you that you can’t do it (like David’s brothers).   Ignore them.  Who cares what they think?  You might hear voices in your head telling you that running in fear would be a more sensible solution.  Ignore them, too.  Just go to war – and believe that God will get your back.

I Samuel 17:45,46

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord God Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.”

I love it – trash talking from the little guy, but God was right there to stick up for David because David had been right there to speak up for God.

What giants are you facing in your life?  A big task?  A relationship issue?  A project where no one else seems to want to lead?  A fear that you need to square off with?  A problem that you need to solve?  A step that you’ve been needing to take – but have been procrastinating forever?  It’s time to step up.  Just go for it.

Stop worrying about what you can’t do, and do what you can do.  Better yet, do what you can’t do, but that only God can do.  It could be the biggest moment of your life.  And that’s a great way to get somewhere while you are going nowhere.

Tip #2 – Play your harp

So if you want to get somewhere while you are going nowhere, you first need to Keep your Sheep. But then you need to Play your Harp. That was what David was doing when he got the attention of some of Saul’s advisors – and they invited him into the palace to play whenever Saul got depressed.

I Samuel 16:18:

One of the servants said, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp.  He is a brave man and a warrior.  He speaks well and is a fine looking man.  And the Lord is with Him.”

So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David.”

And just like that David went from sheep keeper to harp player, from the hills outside of Bethlehem, to an inside view of the palace.  He was about to get an up close look at what it meant to be a king.

When you feel stuck in life, it may be time for you to play your harp.  You need to do the things that you either enjoy, or that you are good at doing.  I’m not sure why the harp was David’s instrument of choice, but he must have liked to play it – and he must have been one smooth harp player.

The problem with waiting is that it tends to suck the enjoyment out of our lives.  All we can think about is how tough things are now, and then we predict that they’ll never get any better.  We take our troubles – and then add tomorrow’s troubles to them, too.  It’s no wonder that we feel down and depressed.

But I want to give you permission to put some fun back into your life.  Do the things you like to do.  If you like to look at the fall colors, go for a drive.  If you like Krispy Kreme, take your own personal field trip.  If you like watching “I Love Lucy,” go ahead and watch it.  What are the things that you enjoy?  What are the things you’re good at doing?  Go do them!  Now!  Today!  Play your harp!

One of the keys to waiting well is learning to live in the moment.  At this very instant you have the ability to make life good, to do something you like, to have some fun.  Don’t let the fact that you are waiting stop you!

Do like David.  Play your harp.  Do what you enjoyDo what you’re good at doing. You might be surprised to find where your harp playing may take you.  It was David’s ticket into the palace.  Your harp might take you somewhere special, too – but you have to play it.  And then you might find that you are getting somewhere even while you are going nowhere.

Tip #1 – Keep your sheep

I wonder how David felt that first morning after his anointing.  Was he excited?  Was he freaked out?  Or was he wondering if he had just had some weird dream and the whole visit of Samuel on the previous night was part of his somewhat disturbed imagination?

The night before was real, and David would be the next king.  Let the training process begin!  On a hillside, with some sheep!  Is that really how the story goes?

I Samuel 16:18,19

“…I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows ow to play the harp….”  Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.”

You know the story.  David was about to be named Saul’s personal harpist.  But where did Saul’s servants have to go to find him?  Out to the hillside – because he was still keeping sheep.  And keep in mind this story happened after Samuel’s big visit.

If you want to get somewhere while you are going nowhere, you have to keep your sheep. You have to do the things that you have always done – regardless of how mindless or thankless or routine they may be.  And you have to do them well – because they may be what God will use to get you ready for whatever comes next.  In God’s world, the preparation is every bit as important as the performance.

God was using the routine of sheep keeping to get David ready.  Want some proof?  Remember when David was itching to face Goliath?  What was the thing he said to Saul?  That the same God who had rescued him from the bear and the lion would rescue him from the giant?  And when did he meet those animals?  When he was keeping his sheep.  Just getting ready for a little giant killing.

And what about these verses from Psalm 78:70-72:

“He chose David his servant, and took him from the sheep pens; from tending his sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people…and David shepherded them with integrity of heart, with skillful hands he led them.”

Seems like God knew there where some great leadership lessons to be learned from keeping sheep.   And wasn’t David called the Shepherd King?

So if you feel like you are going nowhere – keep your sheep.  Do the routine, boring, seemingly unimportant tasks of the day.  They may be exactly what God is using to get your prepared.  It may be that God will use some sheep to get you somewhere.

What’s in a name?

Tim Stevens was the guy who got me blogging.  He suggested I try it – so I decided to give it a whirl.  First, I found a host (wordpress).  Easy enough.  Then I had to come up with a name.  I never got that far.  My wife was the one who suggested “Getting Somewhere.”  And this is the story about the name.

“Getting Somewhere When You’re Going Nowhere” was the title of a series that I did in my college group – and then again in a singles’ group – on the life of David.  Not his whole life – just part of it.   Just twelve or thirteen years of it.

David was only a teenager when Samuel showed up at his house one day.  Of course, David didn’t know anything about it as he was off being a sheep keeper.  But the story rolls along,  David is called in off the hill, and Samuel anoints him to be the next king of Israel.  That story is in I Samuel  16.

And then the very next day David became king.  Actually not.  He didn’t become king for a while.  Not for a long while.  Instead of becoming king, David spent at least a dozen years waiting.  That’s a lot of years of going nowhere until finally, the story gets to II Samuel 5:3,4:

“When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron…they anointed David king over Israel.  David was thirty years old when he became king…”

Thirty years old?  That means that for twelve, maybe thirteen years, David was going nowhere, at least nowhere close to taking the throne – and it seems like singles and college students can relate to that experience.  So can I.  And probably so can you.  How many situations have you had in life where you felt stalled, stuck, and going nowhere? Maybe you feel like a wind-up toy that’s run into a wall – arms and legs  flailing, but making zero headway.  I wonder if David belonged to the club.  I wonder if he felt frustrated at his lack of progress.  I wonder if he felt like he was going nowhere?  I wonder if he wondered if he would ever become king?  For at least 4,745 days David woke up in the morning, but didn’t get his number called.

Then I looked a little closer and realized that David did many important things BEFORE he became king (for instance, taking down Goliath comes to mind – that was pretty big).  He was making things happen without having the benefit of a big title or position.  If he was stuck – he didn’t get the memo.  Nope, he was getting somewhere.

And that’s how my blog got its name.  From Kelly – but really from David.  But I like it, because it is a reminder to me that everyday I can get somewhere in life – if I really want to.

Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in the “getting nowhere” world.  In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more of what I’ve learned from David – and his ability to still get somewhere.

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