I remember long hours of studying and reading my Bible as a teen and college student. Outside of Java City at Sac State, with a caramel macchiato and a bagel. I’m only 20, what are carbs? High fructose syrups don’t bother me, I’ll take an extra pump. Good times. Now it’s more like clinging to an inspirational meme on Pinterest for 30 seconds between therapy sessions and meal time. Earlier this week I patted myself on the back as I majored in multitasking and read 1 Samuel 1:17 – the story of David & Goliath- outloud to Jane (Mommy gets her daily bread, Janie gets her speech therapy. Boom!).
As a girl raised in Sunday school, this is a familiar story to me, however I was struck by some new revelation after reading this story for the 274,000th time. It’s great how Gods Word works like that. And thank God because my attention span is waning even as I write this…. Mushrooms, risotto, mushroom risotto…
The shepherd boy David boldly confronts the giant Philistine, Goliath, who has been taunting the armies of Israel. With a slingshot and a rock David brings him down in one shot , doing what no soldier was brave enough to do. A victorious Bible story.
The part that struck me, however, is a small but important detail mentioned a few places:
1 Samuel 17:3 – And the Philistine stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.
1 Samuel 16:8 – And he (Goliath) stood and shouted to Israel, “Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? … Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me“.
Its easy to focus on the victory of this story. Small defeating big, silencing the taunts of the enemy. The detail we have to recognize is that there would have been no victory had David not entered a valley. A small detail with great implications for my life!
So often I separate my valley from my victory. “When this season is over, we will have victory!” ” When my daughter is no longer sick, then we’ll be truly victorious”. “When we have more money, then I can do everything I need”. “When I have more time, then I’ll really be somebody!” Etc etc.
The comfort, and also tension, is that it just isn’t so. Victory is not isolated from valley moments, victory happens in and through valley moments. But to get there, you have to be willing to descend. To descend to a place of need, brokenness, possible isolation, and desperation. But the descension is not without purpose. In the valley you face many enemies: fear, loneliness, hurt, pain, confusion. But the closer you are to your enemy, the more accurate your aim to take them down, even in a single shot.
When I know this truth, that my victory is not in spite of, or a result of, but because of my valley, I can boldly approach the enemy that once seemed so large and intimidating, knowing that the lower I get the closer I am to a great victory.
Psalm 23:4 – Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.