Many challenges that confront us collectively today may seem insurmountable, whether we’re facing a “fiscal cliff” or the longstanding conflict in Syria or elsewhere. Even our individual and family challenges may appear to defy solution – finding a job, dealing with an aggressive illness or the passing of a close family member.
These remind me of an account recorded in the Bible of when many people were at a loss as to how to handle a situation. One man came forward, took charge, and handled it confidently and easily. The scope of this situation was great, and the impact of the outcome was far reaching. The story is told in the first book of Samuel. When the army of Israel was facing the Philistine army, Goliath, a Philistine, bellowed out a challenge to fight one soldier from the Israelite army – and the winner would determine the outcome of the battle. King Saul of Israel and everyone in his army were at a loss because Goliath was more than nine feet tall and a well-equipped, experienced, and boastful warrior.
When David arrived on the scene and saw what was happening, he stepped up to the task. David faced the giant with a sling and five smooth stones. Goliath mocked David and the army of Israel, but to the great surprise of everyone in both armies, Goliath was felled by a single stone.
Before standing up to Goliath, David had been tending his family’s flock of sheep; and as far as we know, he humbly accepted that role and diligently fulfilled it. He trusted God to guide him, and he learned all he could. This approach had proved effective when he needed to protect the sheep from a lion and a bear. When he arrived at the battlefield, he was confident that he knew what to do, and without hesitation he courageously offered to fight Goliath. David trusted his God and his own experience as a shepherd, and they proved the deciding difference.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, emphasized the importance of shepherding and the accompanying expectation in this message to members of her church: “You come from feeding your flocks, big with promise; and you come with the sling of Israel’s chosen one to meet the Goliaths” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 125).
We can actively fulfill a shepherding role by making sure that our “flocks” are safe and well tended in our job as parent, employee, employer, citizen, or leader. Our work and the impact may appear modest, the lessons we learn may be small or large and many, but by following the gentle, guiding, divine shepherding voice of God, we will learn the lessons we need and learn them well to be ready to face even bigger challenges that may come along, even if they look insurmountable. We will see and fulfill our unique role in making a difference, blessing many, and perhaps even astounding them.