"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." But, the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." Numbers 13:30-31. The Battle Is the Lord's, Yolanda Adams.
This topic personally resonates with me because I cannot remember a decade in my life where I had not encountered a giant (something, someone that hindered me in some way and which I needed to overcome). Of course, looking back I saw that all the obstacles I encountered were not insurmountable and some were even
figments of my imagination. But, at the time I was facing these "giants" they were problematic because in my mind they were real and instilled fear in me. You may wonder why it matters at this juncture. Well, it's because I still face giants and sometimes they prevent or delay my movement forward. (I know, you thought I had all together. Not so.)
I don't know anyone who has not faced opposition of some kind; who has not had something or someone present an obstacle in their lives. Many have conquered these seemingly larger than life issues, but many have turned them into giants beyond their defeat. You should not feel bad if you have not slayed your giants; you are in good company.
My earliest giant that I can remember is when I was a little girl of about four or five years old. I could not let go of the idea that there was a lion (yes, a lion) in the hallway closet that was adjacent to my bedroom. In my mind's eye, that lion was lying in wait to devour me (in hindsight, I don't think I thought the lion was going to devour me, I was just afraid of it for whatever reason). I was a kid, I hadn't thought things through. All I know is that lion was real to me
and I refused to walk by it.
I cried as I stood frozen in the hallway, and my mother responded by coming to me and attempting to comfort me. She did her best to get me to understand that it was only my imagination (I had no clue what that meant). She held my hand and walked with me to the closet. She showed me everything in the closet. I could see for myself that there was nothing there, and I eventually went to bed. However, this episode altered my perception of what was real. On some level I understood that if I believed it to be real, then it was. Even though I accepted that there was nothing in the closet, I hurried past it each time just in case.
Fast forward to adolescence. I would make things, people, conflicts, the unknown, etc., larger than life (at least more important than they needed to be). I worried about everything. Why? I think it is because I never changed my thinking when I was younger. My fears laid dormant for years. When they rose to the surface, they would be shoved back down by me or some teaching I had received. You might have suspected by my writings that I grew up "in the church." This means that my parents and grandparents were people of faith, and we were in church often (it felt like every time the church door opened, we were there (smile). At the time, I was not so enamored of this. But, I have come to appreciate this experience. I digress.
Being young and not really understanding what I was being taught, left me to fill in the blanks. There was no whole lot of explaining things by anyone. You were not encouraged to ask questions. It was either God said so or your parents said so. Pray. The end. They were not malicious or mean, it's just the way they were raised and so they passed it on. They were earnest. I felt the love. Going further meant to risk being labeled disrespectful and subject to incurring consequences. They did not spare the rod. Suffice it to say that I did a lot of figuring things out on my own, and there was a lot giant suppressing, running from them or simply being defeated. I did not have a firm grasp on prayer and besides that, the older I got, the more my giants changed. There were now bullies, shallow friendships, dishonest relationships, racism, discrimination, the Vietnam war, diseases, the threat of world destruction, crime, poverty, hell, bills, lack of confidence, weight, ignorance, bigotry, and on and on. I wasn't quite a basket case, but I would dwell on these things longer than I should have; allowing them to affect my mood and in some cases how I acted.
Having the experience of being in the church did not mean that I had clarity on what I had been taught or how to approach living any more than "being in a garage makes you a car." Pastor Norman Coleman. A tool in the hands of an untrained person is an ineffective resource (in my opinion).
In the scripture above, Moses had sent out spies to assess the land of Canaan (the land of milk and honey) that God had promised to the children of Israel. Keep in mind that they had been delivered from four hundred years of bondage and walked across the Red Sea on dry land, to name a few of the miracles God had performed on their behalf. Yes, Caleb did see giants in the land and he sensed they would not just let them walk in and takeover. But, that did not deter him or dampen his enthusiasm about moving forward to inhabit the land. Additional spies were sent out to give their report. The additional spies gave a different report. They saw the men who looked liked giants (consistent with Caleb), but in their opinion these huge men could not be defeated. Both spies saw the same thing from a visual standpoint. However, the difference was in their points of view. Caleb saw it from God's point of view, therefore no obstacle was too big. The men (the other spies) saw it from a human point of view, knowing that in their own human strength, they could not take down these giants.
We all come from diverse backgrounds and our upbringing varies in numerous ways. Life is the common denominator, and if you live long enough we all encounter trials. The way we handle them is in large part due to the way we were brought up or later socialized. I think we can agree that we all want to dispel roadblocks as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Permit me to share some things that I have discovered.
Gear up for the battle; understand that when you are facing a giant, you need a strategy to be victorious!
1. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill! (Now how many times have you heard this?) Simply put, do not make a big deal out of something that is inconsequential (paper giants). It's a precious waste of time and energy. Spilling water on your new suede jacket is not exactly a "mountain." It can be cleaned. Often we get bent out of shape over the slightest offense and lose valuable relationships; talk it through, apologize and get on with it. (Even if you did not do anything). It's better than making a mountain or a giant out of it.
2. Don't face giants alone! Get help! It may seem valiant to suffer in silence. No, it is unwise. When you indeed realize that you are facing a giant, stop, breathe, strategize, pray. The goal is to face it head on and to be the victor. There are a host of things that can disrupt our peace and cause us much trepidation and fear. Life occurrences such as death, loss, grief, depression, serious illness (mental and physical), chronic pain, inability to earn a livable wage, loneliness, etc. The list goes on. Sometimes we need somebody to lean on (Bill Withers had it right), and sometimes we need to get professional advice. There is no shame in seeking help; the shame is when help is available and you do not reach out to get it. If you need to speak to a member of the clergy, see a doctor or a specialist: an internist, an oncologist, a therapist, etc., do not let fear paralyze you into inaction. Giants do not shrink or disappear. That only happens when you face them head on with confidence, information, and action that you know will knock them down to size or eliminate them.
King Jehoshaphat was informed that the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir (their enemies) were coming to drive the Israelites out of the land that the Lord had given to them as an inheritance. The King went to the temple and sought God's assistance. The King prayed and all of Judah prayed, including the children. God listened and sent word through one of His servants that: "Thus the Lord says to you, "Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde (large group of men coming after you), for the battle is not yours, it's God's. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem." Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. The great horde of men destroyed each other. Read I Kings 22:41-63 and 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.
3. Change your outlook; embrace a winning point of view! Try to see things from God's prospective; every battle already won. I am constantly encouraged by (King) David when he was just a shepherd boy going up against Goliath with a few rocks and a sling shot. That is what was visible. The size of the giant was not what he saw; he saw the might of God behind him and the victories God had given him in the past. "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine." His faith in God's power and faithfulness were more than enough for him to see the giant as God would see him; defeatable. Victory was certain. 1 Samuel 17:31-52. Change the way you view giants. Seeing them through your lenses might result in fright and flight. Been there, done that. But from God's vantage point, victory is assured. I implore you (if you haven't already done so) to try seeing things from God's point of view. It will make a difference; you'll see. That giant won't know what hit him (it).
4. Be wary of fighting other people's giants, lest you become the giant! This is just a word of caution. Sometimes when we see people we care about going through some rough patches, we jump in and try to resolve their issues. Be very careful with this. Your heart may be in the right place and you might be diligent and sincere in your efforts to find solutions for them. The problem arises when the solution does not turn out to be permanent or it is just a stop gap measure and the person finds themselves in the same situation or worse. They may in turn blame you for the entire outcome; resulting in the loss of a friendship or a very close relationship. My recommendation is to offer to be a friend by listening and directing them to the steps above.
I found the answer after all these years; I learned (accepted the directive) to pray.
Here's to triumph over giants in life!!!
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