It was my last spring break of college. Midterms were completed. Vacation had begun. And there I was—squeezed into the back seat of a van, on my way to my very first mission trip.
We were headed from Tennessee to New Mexico, where we would pitch in on building projects and host worship services at a boarding school located on the Navajo Nation.
I was excited. I was scared. Would I be able to do the work? Would the kids like me? Would I be able to make a difference and truly be God’s hands and feet?
I told myself to brush all of my anxious thoughts away. Jesus was with me. I was doing this for Him. He would work everything out perfectly.
I just knew it.
Your bodyguard’s not doing a good job
In 1 Samuel 18, David seemed filled with that same kind of confidence. Every day, he lived and worked within a mile of a man who not only hated his guts, but was a trained warrior and the literal king of Israel. David should have been scared, lying low, but he wasn’t.
He trusted God with his whole heart.
And in 1 Samuel 19, this faith investment returned…moderate results.
It started off really well. Saul was set on killing David, but his son Jonathan, David’s bestie, convinced him not to. Score 1 for David.
But then, one night, while David and Saul were alone, Saul changed his mind. He threw a spear at David – not in reckless anger, but with clear-eyed, murderous intent.
He missed. David got away. Saul: 0, David: 1.5?
Undeterred, Saul sent a group of soldiers to David’s house, and David made another narrow escape.
But not for long! Because Saul sent three entire battalions to David’s new hiding place, and when that didn’t work, he came himself!
But at the last minute, God sent His Holy Spirit down on Saul, and he began prophesying furiously.
In the background, David sneaks away, unharmed.
God is good, most of the time
Phew! David is panting, freaked out, and scared to go home, but he’s alive. God has rescued him!
Right? Right. I mean, you know, sort of. Bottom line: David is okay. For now. Hopefully.
But wait, couldn’t God have done so much more?
Why didn’t He prevent Saul from throwing his spear in the first place?
Why didn’t He thwart Saul’s army before they drove David out of his home?
Why was all this even happening in the first place? If God was able to harden Pharaoh’s heart hundreds of years in the past, then why couldn’t He soften Saul’s heart now?
“I know what you need.”
My first mission trip did not go perfectly.
Within, like, two days of arriving, I accidentally stepped on a nail, so I spent the rest of the time limping around. I was awkward and uncomfortable with the kids. I spent hours hunched over bathroom tile, tediously smoothing grout into its crevices.
And I wish I could say that looking back, I know now that it was all worth it and I gained valuable lessons from my experience. But I can’t.
All I know is that that’s how God wanted that experience to go for me.
Same (but arguably better) story for David. What did he learn during his time fearing for his life, running from Saul? Was his faith tested? Did it grow? Did he need the pain and struggle of running for his life to prepare him for what God had for him?
We don’t have any real confirmation of this. The Bible doesn’t exactly say that all this panic and running was good for David. But here’s what we do know:
- God can do anything, and
- God loves us more than we can fathom
If those two things are true, and God still chose to do what He did with David’s life, and what He is doing with my life, and what He’s doing in your life, then what He’s doing or did or will do must be what we need to have happen.
God will always take care of us. He knows what we need. Even when we don’t.
Our job is to have faith, and wait.
Can we do that?
What do you think? Why do you think God doesn’t protect us “perfectly”?