Friday, November 9, 2012
School, Shepherds, & Being Where God Wants Us
On the way to school one morning this week, Benjamin gave his usual complaint of, "I don't wanna' go to school." He began to ask me, "Why do I have to go to school?" I gave him the usual response of, "View this as an opportunity. Even though you may not like all of your subjects, think of them as a means to an end. If you work hard in school and make good grades, then you can have your choice of colleges and universities, and the better your choice the better opportunities you're going to have when it comes time for you to get a job. If you can get a job that you like then it won't feel like a job." This had zero impact on his attitude, so I decided to address the issue differently.
"Before he was King David, what was he?" I asked.
"Exactly. Being a shepherd was the lowest position one could have in that culture. David was just that - a shepherd. And he was small and puny and his family made fun of him. His brothers were big, muscular warriors and they teased David. When it came time for them to go off to battle as soldiers, David was left behind to tend the sheep. I'm sure he was out there in the fields, pretending to be a soldier, too. That may have been how he killed that lion. Finally, one day David's father calls him in from the fields and tells him that he wants David to go to the front where his brothers are. You know David must have been thinking, "Now's my chance!' Until his dad says, "Take your brothers their lunch." David must have been crushed. Once again, he was given the demeaning task of taking his warrior brothers their lunch. I'm sure he grumbled and complained all the way to the front."
"Then he got there. And David saw the soldiers all cowering and afraid as the giant Goliath taunted them. So what happened next?" I asked.
Without missing a beat, Benjamin told me all about how David took his slingshot, gathered three stones, and trusted in God as he went before the Goliath. He got all excited about how young David killed the giant. Then I asked Benjamin, "So what happened to David after he defeated Goliath?"
"He became king."
Benjamin was surprised when I corrected him with, "No, he was sent back to the fields to continue tending the sheep."
"What? That's not fair!"
"Be that as it may, and I'm sure David probably agreed with you, but that's what happened. After that great victory where soldiers were probably cheering him, lifting him up, and chanting his name, David found himself back with the menial task of tending the sheep. He may have been asking God, 'Why?' But God had a plan for David just as he does for you. God has you in your school right now for a reason."
God had David, like Moses, shepherd sheep so that he would later know how to shepherd Israel. In those fields, he knew the boredom and tediousness of the job, the thanklessness of the job, as well as the dangers that could lurk out there. I'm sure that returning to those fields after that victory, he was filled with great disappointment and was discouraged.
Of course, as I'm telling him this, I immediately realize how it applies in my own life. Sometimes God has us in a place where we don't understand why but we have to trust God because He's God and He has a bigger, grander plan. If David hadn't have been out in those fields then we wouldn't have the 23rd Psalm and how many people have been comforted by that specific psalm during times of trials, hardship, discouragement, and confusion?
So, wherever you are right now in your life, know that God is there with you and that He has a plan for you. Trust Him, no matter what the circumstances because, while circumstances change, God doesn't. As the 23rd Psalm tells us:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.