How many jobs have you had? If you're like me, you could count on both hands. In college, I cleaned someone's house, babysat, and made copies at a print shop. After graduation, I worked at a tutoring center, trained to be a hairstylist, was a preschool teacher, and co-owned a small beauty agency. And that's just the highlights.
Most of these jobs have seemingly nothing to do with what I do today. Most of my jobs did not feel glamorous, but more like the hard work of showing up and stretching myself.
As a kid I dreamed of being a writer--but the path that got me to writing was becoming a hairstylist and writing beauty blogs and ad copy for beauty brands. Who'd a thunk?
And we won't get into all the jobs my husband has had! Let's just say that somehow he learned great skills that he uses as a pastor, from his days of being a bouncer and bartender.
Can you trace the path your life has taken to get to where you are now? Does it look like a straight shot? Or more like a rollercoaster zig zag? Most of us take the long, roundabout way to get where we're going in life. If not through our job descriptions, then certainly through the emotional ups and downs and lessons we've learned to shape us into who we are today.
I LOVE the story of David and Goliath because it illustrates this idea beautifully. So okay, as a kid, I loved it for its vividness--a boy knocks down a 9-foot giant with a single stone? "Whoa, that's cool!" But as an adult, I appreciate the other nuances.
Goliath isn't just a beast, he's a decorated warrior with wins under his belt and a lifetime of training:
"His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back.7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield-bearer went ahead of him." (1 Samuel 17:4-7)
Goliath is the highly trained business mogul in the Armani suit. The monopoly that is putting the little guys out of business. He's the team with all the training, sponsorships, and the "it" athlete. He's the competition that it's not even worth comparing yourself to-- because there's no competition--he's hands down the best.
But while the Israelites are shaking and running from him, boy David shows up and is indignant. He's not focused on the bronze shekels, the massive javelin, or his colossal size. David is mad that this guy is defying and mocking the Living God! His focus isn't on the circumstances, but on God himself.
When he steps up and says he'll fight Goliath, everyone around him looks at David's questionable qualifications. His brother asks "and with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness?" amounting David's life work to a matter of babysitting.
Saul chimes in, "you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth."
But again, David has a different perspective. He doesn't try to measure up to the giant that models skill and success. No. David looks at how his unconventional, and humble experience has equipped him for a moment such as this.
“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..." (1Sam.34-36)
Too often I look to culture to define what my journey should look like. I measure my value against a measuring stick that has been constructed by this world's values: money, popularity, productivity... Ultimately, it makes me focus on the giants and skeptics around me, rather than the Living God, and the unconventional, but valuable journey He is taking me on.
God measures our progress by our hearts. Whether He shapes our hearts through being a barista at Starbucks, or shepherding our own children, caring for a dying parent, or training for a marathon, God uses every dip and turn, swerve and detour of our life's journey to make us more like Him. More, God equip us to face our own giants in the world as our bravery and ability glorify Him. As we fix our eyes on who God is, we can be like David as we focus less on the giants that provoke fear, and the circumstances that make us want to give up and run away, trusting in who God has created us to be as He and prepares us for His good work.
There's a Winnie the Pooh quote by A.A. Milne I love, but I'd like to put a little twist on it. Because as much as I want to say these very words to my children, I know that the promise is better spoken from our Heavenly Father. These are words, He whispers over us in different ways throughout Scripture. Wrapped in the whimsy of Winnie the Pooh, I hope it's a memorable anthem for you as you face your giants today:
"You are braver than you believe,
stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…
I’ll always be with you.”
Go and be brave.