When Life Gives You Lemons…

This past Sunday I taught 1 Samuel 18 at White Fields (the audio of that message can be found here).

This is the story of Saul’s jealousy towards David, which leads him to begin a campaign to hurt David in order to secure his position of power and prominence in Israel. It is a story full of themes which are all too familiar for many of us, because they are so human.

Here are a few quotes from Sunday which are worth revisiting:

One of the main principles in this story is the fact that you can’t control how people treat you, and often-times you can’t control what happens to you, but you do get to choose how you respond to those things.

Ted Engstrom illustrates this principle well:

“Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott.
Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan.
Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington.
Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.
Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes a Franklin Roosevelt.
Burn him so severely that the doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham who set the world’s one-mile record in 1934.
Deafen him and you’ll have a Ludwig van Beethoven.
Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you’ll have a Booker T. Washington, and a George Washington Carver
Call him a slow learner, and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.”

All of these people had terrible circumstances that they didn’t get to choose, that nobody would have ever chosen! But they didn’t crumble under these circumstances; instead, they responded well – and their circumstances ended up becoming an important part of who they would become and why they would be great.

The same is true of David. Men after God’s heart aren’t made in palaces, they are made in fields on cold nights, tending the sheep alone under the stars; they are made in caves, where the Lord is your only rock and fortress.

Gene Edwards, in his classic book ‘A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness’, writes this about David’s difficult circumstances:

David the sheepherder would have grown up to become King Saul II, except that God cut away the Saul inside David’s heart. That operation, took years and was a brutalizing experience that almost killed the patient. And what were the scalpel and tongs God used to remove that inner Saul from David’s heart?  God used the outer Saul.
King Saul sought to destroy David, but his only success was that he became the instrument of God to put to death the Saul who roamed about in the caverns of David’s own soul.

Edwards goes on to say:

God is looking at the King Saul in you.
“In me?!”
Yes, Saul is in your bloodstream, in the marrow of your bones. He makes up the very flesh and muscle of your heart. He is mixed into your soul. He inhabits the nuclei of your atoms. King Saul is one with you. You are King Saul! He breathes in the lungs and beats in the breast of all of us. There is only one way to get rid of him: he must be annihilated.

You don’t get to choose your circumstances, but you do get to choose how you respond.  When life gives you lemons… may God help us to respond well!

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