Smoothing Out the Rough Edges

The Old Testament portion of today’s Lectionary Reading includes selected verses from 1 Samuel 17 which recounts the story of David and Goliath. To read the passage in its entirety please click here. There exists a multitude of Sunday School lessons, Bible Study lessons, and Vacation Bible School lessons that focus on this particular story. I know this because I have participated in many of these myself and have encountered this epic battle numerous times. Most of these studies highlight the theme of the Weak overcoming the Strong because they have God on their side.  This is a great lesson to take away from this passage; however, today I want to direct the focus somewhere else in this story.

As David prepares for battle, King Saul adorns him with his own armor including a helmet, a coat of mail, and his sword.  The trouble was, David was not use to such trappings and could not walk with all those things bearing down on him.  So he stripped himself of the heavy armor and instead armed himself with five smooth stones from a nearby stream bed for use in the sling that he carried while he tended his father’s sheep.  David then proceeds to march into battle against the biggest, baddest giant of the Philistine army with a child’s sling and a couple of rocks.  Oh yeah, and complete faith in the Lord to protect him.

As I read this passage yesterday my attention was drawn to the selection of the stones from the stream bed.  David didn’t just pick up five random stones; instead, he carefully chose five particular ones he wanted to take with him.  Picture him as he picks up a stone and perhaps then rolls it between his hands, runs his fingers over the surface, checking for any imperfections that may cripple it in the performance of its duties.  And think of how long it took for that stone to become smooth.  Years and years of sitting in that stream bed as the raging waters during the flood season would rush over it, taking off the rough sharp edges until it became exactly the shape and formation that David needed that day.  One could think that a rock with a sharp edge may have been useful to help inflict damage.  But what David needed was a stone that would fly straight and true so that it would hit its mark.  Any rough edges would have caused wind resistance, thus causing it to stray slightly from its flight pattern.

It was no coincidence that the stone David needed was there at the right time.  Unbeknowst to the stone, God had been preparing it for many years so that He could call it into service at this time for this reason.  And in the same way God prepares each of us the same way.  We aren’t always aware of the shaping and molding that is taking place within us, but rest assured that it is happening.  God is smoothing out our own rough edges and at the right time and the right place he will use us for whatever purpose(s) He has planned.  He needs us to be able to fly straight and true so we too will hit our mark.

So, as you go through this week and whatever joys and troubles it brings, rest in the assurance that God is working in your life even if you don’t see the evidence of it at this time.  If you are troubled and dismayed and feel that you aren’t making a difference, know that God has His own plans in place and works on His own timetable.  We sometimes have to spend time in the river bed with the flood waters rushing over us to help make us who we need to be. 

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Back in the Pulpit

Many years ago I become a Certified Lay Speaker with the United Methodist Church.  This meant that I was able to fill in for a Pastor on Sunday morning and lead the worship service.  Although nerve-wracking, is was something I really enjoyed doing.  However, with school and work demanding all my attention I unfortunately let my certification lapse.  I do plan on updating as soon as possible.

On May 31st our Pastor was going to be out of town.  He asked mom to lead the service because she is now a Certified Lay Speaker as well.  Knowing my background he mentioned perhaps I might want to do it instead.  Since it had been years I didn’t feel quite up to doing the whole service, but was willing to deliver the message.  So, that Sunday mom and I did a “tag-team” operation with her taking care of everything else while I delivered the sermon. 

The message I choose to deliver was in a little different format than what most consider a typical sermon.  In fact it was a narrative, a story.  I had written it for a New Testament class I had taken at Gaston College.  The assignment was to take a story from the Gospels and pick out an un-named minor character that was mentioned there.  Then, we were to retell the story from that person’s point of view.  I chose to write mine about a fisherman, a contemporary of James, John, Simon, and Andrew.  This all resulted in 

Remembering D-Day (June 6, 1944)

Final Tribute

I know I am several days late on writing about this.  But the reality is any day is a good day to honor what happened on that day. 

Several years ago Robin and I visited The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford Virginia.  I know Bedford is not a place that usually ranks high on people’s list of places to visit or vacation.  It is a downside that this place is not in a higher profile location.  Yet, it was placed where it is because that town had the largest per capita death rate in the country due to the invasion. 

See this article to learn more about the Bedford Boys:  http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/wb/207039.

Although still in the works, this place left a lasting impression on me.  The layout of the memorial and the sculptures do a wonderful job of lending some insight into what happened on that fateful day.  The one area that had the most impact on me was the part known as the Landing  Beach Tableau.  While viewing the sculptures showing soldiers wading through water surrounded by obstacles there are pinging sounds and water splashing around them to simulate the perilous journey they had to endure.  Another inspiring sculpture entitled Scaling the Wall is also a great visual representation of the feats that were asked of the Allied forces that day.  Although I know that in reality I will never truly understand or appreciate the sacrifices made not only there, but throughout the war itself, I left with a greater sense of awe, appreciation, and sense of patriotism than I have ever experienced anywhere else.

Landing Beach Tableau

Wading Soldier

Soldier on the Beach

Scaling the Wall

Please visit the memorial’s website at http://www.dday.org/ and visit the Photo Gallery to see more stunning pictures.

As I said, it is (understandably) located in a somewhat out-of the way place; but, still I encourage you to try to find some time to plan a visit to this unique and remarkable location. In the larger scheme of things it is a small sacrifice in light of what these men had to pay.  Until then, as the article above mentions, the memorial is facing monetary problems at this time, so please consider sending a donation if you are able.  I know money is tight for many now, and I know everyone has their own causes they like to support, so if a donation is not within your reach or is not what you feel led to do, then at the least help me spread the word about this place.  Perhaps in that way someone with the means and ability will be able to help out.

Thank you for whatever you are willing to do regarding this matter.