“Anchoring the Ship”-1 Samuel 15: 34- 16:13


In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker looks for Jedi master, Yoda.  When, he discovers the diminutive knight, he is skeptical of his abilities.  Luke judges what he sees–and as in today’s story, sight alone can’t always be trusted.

Stories like Star Wars, or the tale of David chosen as king, have a way of speaking truth other forms of communication cannot.  A great story shifts our imagination from the way we see ourselves, others and God in order that we might perceive new ways; rethinking what is important in a life, who is best qualified, and how God works in the world.

This series is set within the period of the United Monarchy.  The story picks up in a time when things are not going well for King Saul.  He disobeyed God; keeping the spoils of war.  He compounds his sin by covering it up.  He wasn’t keeping the stuff for himself; he was saving to sacrifice to God.  Some things never change; but neither God, nor the Samuel buys it.

Samuel, in his first encounter with Saul is called a “seer”.  Seeing is a key aspect in the story.  Yet, we will learn we cannot always trust our eyesight.  Saul was a people-initiated a king, not a God provided king.  God regrets allowing it and rejects Saul.

God says, “I have provided for myself a king”.  The Hebrew word “provided” means “to see” or “I have seen to it.”  God sees to it a new king will be appointed.  Does it mean a God provided king will fulfill God’s purpose?  That remains to be seen; and in David’s story, it is a little hard to tell.  It is not hard to tell God sees differently than we.

A parade of brothers begins.  The eldest son, Eliab is the obvious choice.  Eliab is a powerful man, who looks the part.  Samuel is sure he’s the one, so he is tempted to trust what he sees, risking he might be deceived by appearance.  Something told Samuel God hadn’t rested his hand on Eliab.  In the quiet of his soul, he formed these words: “Do not look on his appearance or on his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord doesn’t see as mortal sees; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.  The parade continues; God rejects them all.

Samuel asks if there are others.  David, the youngest, the one deemed too insignificant to be brought into the company of the great prophet Samuel is summoned.  Being the eighth child wasn’t much different from being a lowest of low in this culture.  The shepherd boy is called and the Lord says “This is the one.”  David’s outward appearance is noted, we are told he is ruddy, with beautiful eyes and handsome.  This is the writer’s way of reinforcing God takes no notice of his looks, but only his heart, where others cannot see.

God choosing David, the eighth child of Jesse, as the next king of Israel stands in contrast to our culture that screams the world is for the people who appear to have everything.  The story shifts our imagination to wonder what God sees, we cannot see.  God has always delighted in being unpredictable in choosing people. 

We see it when Mary sings a lullaby; praising God for looking favorably on “lowliness, bringing down the powerful, and lifting up the lonely.”  We hear it in the sermons of Jesus when he said, “the first will be last and the last will be first.”  We read it in the letters of Paul when he said, “God chose the foolish in this world to shame the wise.”  Followers of Jesus were not the best and brightest; they were outcasts, poor, insignificant, and uneducated, not persons you would expect to change the world.

Please don’t be too polite toward the text today; inwardly nodding; agreeing God calls unlikely people.  The practice of thinking the words are meant for someone else chokes out the possibility of real growth.  God choses each one of us; looking on our hearts and seeing we have virtue to offer others that can anchor our life and theirs from this moment and into eternity.

We tell ourselves there are other people more gifted and capable than we.  We do so because we are blinded by life’s bumps and bruises, which keep us from being able to see clearly into our own souls what God sees.  We’re blinded by our preconceived ideas, lingering doubts, or unnecessary anxieties that keep us from seeing what God sees in us.  This inner dialogue prevents us from hearing the inward voice of the soul that says, God doesn’t look at what is happening on the outside of our lives.

God is not looking for people who get by with obvious gifts.  God is looking for people with a heart that can see clearly there’s always grace available, even in the jungle of life.  Most people will never be able to see the favorable part of our heart that God sees unless we integrate this platitude into our attitude-God sees the good that is on the inside of my heart.  What God sees and what we are asked to believe is when God made us God said the same thing God said about all creation, “It is good!

The evil forces in this world and our sinful choices can mar what God made; causing us to think God would not dare choose us.  God’s grace is more than sufficient; making us usable to God for the sake of others.  We can confirm God has chosen us by simply offering ourselves in deeds of love and concern to others.  Try it today, tomorrow, and for a lifetime.  Express outwardly what in good inwardly in your heart.

How many of you have been surprised God chose you for a certain opportunity of service.  You may have thought your gifts were not suited for the assignment, and God surprised you.  God’s ways are always surprising ways.  The kingdom of God is birthed out of a surprising choice-the Son of God rejects the riches of heaven and freely comes as a humble servant for the sake of every person.  Then, Christ builds this kingdom on the back of a gaggle of Galilean fish folk and Palestinian peasants.  Then, he invites you and me to follow in his footsteps and those of his first followers in humble ways faithfully offering our lives to others and they did.

Go figure?  The only way we can figure this out is to understand that God does not look on the outward appearance, God looks within our hearts and see virtue that is needed for the call God issues in our lives.  Our church and every church is a living example of the way God works.  Christ’s church has been built by people who labor in anonymity.

In our own church, we may not know names of people who answered the surprising call of God.  Yet their contribution to the life of this church makes possible what we are blessed with on this day.  Some of them were the eighth child of Jesse, the last, but surprisingly God’s choice for the time.  They demonstrated virtues that anchored this church for more than century.

I invite us to think what it would mean to think of FUMC, Irving as a mother ship. 

I want to build on the metaphor over the next few months beginning by focusing on some virtues that anchor this mother ship over the next six weeks.  We will walk through the life of King David; seeing how the virtues he demonstrated can help us hold steady in answering the surprising call of God in our church and lives.  The six virtues we will reflect are: courage, loyalty, friendship, repentance, love and responsibility.  These are not exhaustive, but they are key anchors in the life of David, the Body of Christ, our church and lives; keeping us steady in our service.

David’s life was also marked by messiness.  His heart was filled not only with the Spirit of God–but with lust, malice, anger, fear, doubt, deceit, and all the things that fill our hearts too.  Yet, in his heart God saw something deep within; virtues that anchored him.  In the same way, God sees virtue in our hearts that can anchor us as we answer the surprising call of God.  

We will expand the mother ship metaphor through the remainder of 2012.  Besides looking at what it takes to anchor the ship, we will also explore the ministries required for her to sail, and what excursions are needed to keep her vital, and to whom and how can we can foster relationships with other persons or vessels, so the fleet becomes stronger in her witness to the God who fashions and sustain every ship and sailor.  Church, I challenge you to fully exploring what we can be and do in these next months.  Be present for the next six weeks to celebrate the anchors of our lives and Christ’s church.

Published in: on July 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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