The last two years have taken a mental and emotional and, in some cases, a physical toll. We may not be very strong. Or powerful. Or special. Or, even, useful. Yet the story of David’s anointing in 1 Samuel 16 reminds us that our strength…our power…our specialness…or our perceived usefulness is not what makes us capable in God’s eyes. After all, Saul was an impressive human being in, seemingly, every way, but he failed as king.
David, on the other hand, was said to be a beautiful man. However, he was the youngest son and was not the tallest or strongest among his brothers. Yet God chose him. The same had occurred with the Israelites. God explains they were his chosen, but not because they were, in any sense, a great nation. In fact, they were chosen in spite of the fact that they were not.
What makes us, as followers of Christ, in participation in the transformation of the world by God’s love, is not that we are great or have achieved great things. It is God’s grace. God’s grace calls us in spite of everything that makes us question our worth. It reminds us our worth originates in God. It is really when we find greatness that we are most likely to forget the impact grace has on our lives and start to think we are our own God or begin to attribute our own selfish desires to God’s will. This is the trap that both Saul and David fell into. They began to trust in their own abilities more than God’s grace and became purveyors of the religion of empire, which seeks to fulfill selfish desires, rather than purveyors of the religion of creation where we trust in God for all we need and our neighbors are all provided for in love.
It’s a reminder that the Lenten season causes us to reflect with concern while embracing hope. The concern is recognizing how much we may think we are all that on our own so that we become focused on building our brand or our achievements and we see the chaos it brings as it ends up doing harm to ourselves and others. The hope comes from remembering that God’s grace continues to be offered to us and we can simply respond knowing that God points us to the way of peace if we will but trust and follow the divine into the light of that future.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen