While listening to a podcast the other day, I heard a passing reference to King David doing the work God had set out for him to do, and I’ve been mulling that over: picturing the small shepherd boy in the field, slinging a stone at Goliath. I don’t really compare myself to David very often; he’s not the person in Scripture I relate to most easily. But the way I read this story still shows me a lot about the way comparison functions in my life.
When I read the account of David and Goliath, I immediately begin comparing David to his brothers and the other Israelite soldiers who are supposed to be responsible for fighting the Goliath and his Philistine army. I look at them and think that they were weak, they were fearful, they were defeatist, and they didn’t trust God. I’m not saying I blame them for it, but it’s certainly how they come across. In comparison, David looks pretty good. He clearly seems like the only guy for the job. Logically, that must be why God chose him.
But now I’m not so sure that’s actually how it works.
We know that David was a young shepherd, and that’s what makes the story seem amazing–someone who was smaller and weaker and had less training could accomplish the task. We all love a good underdog. And then of course, we think about how David seems exceptionally brave.
I no longer think that’s the point. I’ve decided that it’s completely irrelevant how big, how well-equipped, how well-trained, how trusting, or how courageous David was. I’m no expert in ancient weaponry, so it’s possible that this required exceptional skill I don’t understand, but I imagine there were likely other soldiers within Saul’s army who could have accomplished the same task if it occurred to them. God didn’t care if David was “more” or “less” anything.
Only one thing mattered: defeating Goliath was a task God chose for David. This was just going to be his job.
I spend a lot of time obsessing about what characteristics and habits I need to develop or rid myself of, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what circumstances in my life need to change. Before I can write a book, I need more alone time, more practice, more self-discipline, and a better story. Before I can parent this new baby well, I need more time, more money, more energy, more patience. Before I feel at home in Grand Rapids, I need more friends, a more adventurous spirit, fewer home projects to tackle.
And that’s just looking at myself; I do the same thing when I compare myself to other people. If I was more independent like so-and-so, I’d better manage Evan’s long work hours. If it was more self-assured like that writer, I wouldn’t second-guess myself. If I was a morning person like that friend, I’d be more productive.
I’ve understood that none of these thoughts were exactly helpful, but I still believed they were true. Now I’m not so sure.
I think God’s called me to do a few things:
2. Be Evan’s wife.
3. Parent Ian and his new little brother.
4. Love God, love people, exactly where I am, with what I have.
It’s not exactly an easy assignment, but neither was confronting a 9-foot tall, combative and belligerent soldier. It’s not an easy assignment, but it’s mine.
Comparison is something I wrestle with constantly, and to not compare is something I must choose moment-by-moment. I don’t always choose well, but when I fall into the comparison trap, I can remind myself that it’s not important how I measure up compared to any other person or even yesterday’s version of myself. My “success” in any of these roles can’t be measured on a ruler or a scale. Just like David, I can only respond with a “yes” or a “no.” One yes is all it takes, and I can trust that God is with me as I go.