Today we have stories of two people, David and Jesus, who found their Rock in the midst of the challenges of their daily lives. Both listened to the voice of the One who is the Rock, in contrast to the voices around them. But they had very different outcomes…one ends in the death of another, one ends in life for another. Let’s take a closer look.
Yippee. David slew Goliath. It’s hard to stir up enthusiasm for this historical victory of right defeating might and the success of the underdog -- “the Lord’s battle” -- in our current context of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the globe. When and if the Goliath of Al-Qaida is defeated and destroyed, I won’t be cheering; I’ll be thinking “how long until the next enemy appears?” and “Who will be the next group of people to use religion and God’s name to justify violence?” No, the killing is not the victory here. David’s listening to God’s voice and guidance, despite Saul’s protest, and despite the Philistine’s size and strength, is the triumph.
Also Jesus, moved by the suffering of another, acting on the impulse to heal despite the objection of the Pharisees, is the grace of the Gospel. And even though angered and grieving at their hardness of heart, Jesus is not distracted; he maintains his focus on healing the one who is suffering.
But I rarely have to take up arms and seldom run into present day Pharisees. My internal Goliaths and Pharisees are more intimidating and controlling, and have more power to destroy, than anyone external. Maybe insatiable wanting and greed, endless craving for entertainment and distractions that iPods, TV’s and computers provide, and the subtle but never ending internal litany of “Who cares?” “You can’t make a difference,” “I’ll get even,” or “I’ll show them who’s boss” are the real weapons of mass destruction. They inflict greater damage because they weaken our spirits and diminish our souls. If all I have against these formidable weapons of lies and deceit in the hands of this cunning adversary are my ego defenses, “I’m a kind person,” “I regularly do volunteer service,” “I donate for worthy causes to end poverty and illness” and “I’m involved in my community and write my senators”, I’m doomed. Our hearts can harden by “doing good” as well as from doing harm.
What can confront these sly adversaries? The voice of God, my Rock, softens my heart, and opens my ears and eyes and mind so I can see and hear and think clearly. And each time I act on that voice I fan in to flame that impulse for life…. that impulse of hope and joy and compassion and peace. It starts as a small thing… like a little pebble… but has huge strength in the face of these masterful interior warriors. Could it be that I pick up my sling shot and aim each time I resist the urge to skip prayer or exercise or to overeat? Or each time I resist the urge to lash out when someone has just dealt me harsh words? Or each time I refrain from being critical and judgmental?
Who or what helps you hear the voice of God? What diminishes your ability to hear?
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