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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Other Giants

By Robert C. Crosby
Mar. 31, 2013

“How can I pray for you?”

When my friend David asked me this question I knew exactly what to say:

“Well, honestly, there is someone on my team at work who has really become difficult to deal with. Would you pray that God just moves them on to another place?”

The next morning when I saw David, he said, “Hey, Bob, I prayed and really believe God put a word on my heart for you related to your prayer request.”

I wasn’t quite prepared for what he was about to say. His insights made me re-examine another David’s life.

Have you noticed God builds our character not only by insights that come from studying His Book, but also by the transformation that comes from experiencing challenges in our lives? No one lived out this truth any more clearly than Israel’s King David and the giant, or giants, he faced.

The first giant

As a young shepherd, David confronted the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). What an epic tale. Yet a close look at David’s life reveals he faced not one, but several “giants.” Goliath is simply the one with whom we are most familiar. This giant was a real person who had a real family. The gargantuan warrior blatantly taunted and defied the armies of Israel and was the enemy Hebrew soldiers feared most.

On one level, this human “giant” represents very real people who may be in our lives; Goliath represents someone standing in our way in the pursuit of God’s best for our lives.

From our childhood, most of us can recall people who periodically, if not frequently, seemed to get in our way. Do you remember them? The teammate on a sports team who always topped you in scoring. The rival who ended up with the date you were first interested in. The co-worker who beat your sales numbers yet again.

But people can also obstruct the most important areas of life. They can speak discouragement or doubt when we share goals God has laid on our hearts. We identify with David when we try to move ahead in God’s will, yet find someone is right there in our way.

Sometimes that “someone in our way” is the enemy of our souls, Satan himself. When Peter contradicted Jesus and the plan He had just communicated regarding His redemptive mission, Jesus responded to that disciple, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23, NIV). In that instance, Christ was not teaching us to literally call every person who gets in our way by that name.

However, Jesus’ example would imply that we should give careful consideration to the ultimate force behind anyone or anything that would hinder our pursuit of God and His purposes. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul said of this clever enemy, “We are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Just how did David deal with someone standing in his and Israel’s way? He didn’t just hope it would all go away; he confronted this enemy in faith. Sometimes the “someone” or “something” standing in our way needs to be confronted, whether in honest dialog when it is a relational interference or bold intercession when it is a spiritual one.

The other giants

David faced other “giants” as well. Consider King Saul.

You may remember Saul as the notoriously paranoid king who became thoroughly threatened by David’s leadership potential. But before Saul became an enemy of God’s plan for David, he was for a time someone in many ways to be admired. Early in Saul’s story we see him praying, conferring with God’s prophet, and even prophesying himself (1 Samuel 10,11). Along the way something changed in this leader, for the worse.

David first interacted with Saul by playing music for him (1 Samuel 16:14-23). His melodies calmed Saul and quieted his spiritual unrest. Ultimately, David’s confrontation with Goliath was on behalf of Saul; David even tried to wear Saul’s armor. Saul sent David to do what the king should have had the faith to do himself.

After the confrontation, David’s phenomenal success against Goliath stirred the hearts of countless Hebrew women to song, and the heart of Saul to envy and resentment (1 Samuel 18:5-9). Saul became a leader ultimately poised on eradicating David.

The setting for this second giant in David’s life is one more familiar to us than the battlefield; it is the workplace, a place most of us see every day. For you and me today, in a sense, Saul represents someone who will let us down. In David’s case, this disappointing giant was a mentor who let him down, someone who became a “toxic leader.”

Few frustrations in life are more menacing, disappointing or more potentially volatile. Yet, David dealt with this giant in his life and on his job in a manner we should emulate. Saul wasn’t just disappointed with David; he was out to hurt him. Somehow, David faced the frustrations and deadly threats of Saul with incredible patience and forbearance.

Here are a few principles on dealing with a “toxic leader” in your life:

• Don’t try to “fix” him or her. That’s God’s job!

• Avoid the offenses that can infect your spirit. Don’t absorb them! Don’t become the object that is hurting you.

• If you finally get the chance to pay them back for what they’ve done to you, make sure you don’t!

• Before you leave them too quickly, remember God may be using them in ways you don’t yet know. Imagine that!

Giant potential

Besides Goliath and Saul, David eventually faced giants of betrayal by the likes of Joab and Absalom, family intrigue from Amnon and Adonijah, and further attacks from enemies foreign and domestic. Much of this turmoil can be traced to David’s adultery with Bathsheba.

But it is important to remember David repented and faced these giants as a man still dedicated to God. Even giants that resulted from David’s failures could become tools for God to shape his life.

When my friend David spoke to me that morning and said, “Bob, I believe God put a word on my heart for you,” I was hopeful. I thought, Perhaps he will tell me God is going to answer my prayer and actually move this person “standing in my way” somewhere else.

But my friend said, “I don’t think that problem person is going anywhere soon. In fact, I believe God is going to leave that person in place for the immediate future to help build character and leadership muscle in you.”

That was not what I wanted to hear. But, in the long run, it was true; although it wasn’t what I initially prayed for or wanted, it was what I needed.

We naturally crave comfort, but those comforts rarely bring out the best in us. Challenges accomplish that transformation. In fact, while our comforts might help us move toward our potential, our challenges push us beyond it.

Despite my wishes, God allowed that “giant” in my life to remain a bit longer — not to build frustration in me, but as it turns out ... character. And there have been other giants who have shaped me in different ways.

Giants have a way of doing that.

ROBERT C. CROSBY is a conference speaker, author and professor of practical theology at Southeastern University (Assemblies of God) in Lakeland, Fla.


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