In the region I live, we occasionally get hit by a hurricane or tropical storm, depending on its path. If you live in an area that is susceptible to these ferocious storms, you know how to prepare, just in case. Make sure your generator works and you have gasoline for it. Purchase water and batteries for that flashlight. Maybe you even need to board up your windows depending on your location in relation to the storms projected path. And you make sure the car has a full tank of gas in case evacuation is necessary. You prepare. But oftentimes, no matter how prepared we think we are, the storm can surprise us, catch us off guard with its intensity, and leave us feeling as though we had not prepared at all!
Caught Unaware and Unprepared
Have you ever felt like that? You thought you were prepared, but then WHAM! Something unforeseen happens and it can leave you feeling like you are fighting a losing battle. Is this that season for you? Maybe because of COVID-19? A diagnosis from a doctor? The loss of a loved one? The loss of a job? Unlike a hurricane that is detected by high tech equipment enabling us to plan accordingly, in life, there is no such radar that allows us to predict when and where the storms will hit. And they can leave us feeling unprepared to face a battle we never saw coming. But what if you’ve been unknowingly preparing all your life?
In the Old Testament of the Bible, we read about this well-known guy named David who, for most of his life, had inadvertently been preparing to fight a giant. Even if you’re not familiar with scripture, it’s likely you are acquainted with the legendary story of David and Goliath. It is the account of a shepherd boy, who was not a warrior, yet he defeated the warrior giant. “Saul replied, ‘You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.’ But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.’” 1 Samuel 17:33-37 NIV. David didn’t know it, but while he was out in the fields, just doing his job, guarding his sheep, God was preparing him for battle. David was training to defeat a giant and thereby ultimately saved the nation of Israel in the process! Because of his past experiences, what David saw before him was not a warrior he was unprepared to face, he saw an opportunity to use all he had learned as preparation to rise to the challenge.
We all face challenges. Every single one of us. A storm we thought we’d prepared for will surprise us with its intensity. An unexpected battle will arise. So let’s be encouraged by David. As he went out to confront a giant he never encountered before, equipped with the skills he had learned in the fields guarding his sheep, David also recognized another crucial element to his victory. He knew he did not face Goliath alone. David declared and believed that God was with him (1 Samuel 17:37). I don’t know about you, but no matter what battle I face and whether I believe I’m prepared, or feel like I’m not, I am encouraged to know that God is with me through it all! That stirs up hope! That encourages strength! So, let me ask you; are you prepared? Are you in the field with the sheep, unknowingly training for an unexpected battle? Or are in you in the midst of that battle right now? Whether we realize it or not, somewhere along the way, we’d undergone training that had prepared us to face this battle, whatever that may be. But, as in all battles, we are not left without scars, scrapes, or bruises, and if we allow them to, they can become part of our training so that we are prepared for the next battle. And there will be more. And yet, I believe that even in, maybe especially in the battle we can find moments to treasure.
equipping You to Be Prepared
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV