While heading over to Kenya three weeks ago, I had a five-hour delay out of Atlanta that caused me to miss my flight to Kenya out of Amsterdam. During my delay, I began to read and reflect on the story and relationship of King Saul and David. I have begun doing research on a book, perhaps a book of fiction, that will highlight some of the significant encounters, and the lessons learned from this encounters, between the two men. Many of David's psalms were written in response to the pain and agony David experienced as he fled from Saul's murderous intentions.
Today, I was looking at the pain in David's life as he took refuge among the Philistines away from Saul's harassment. While among his enemies, David's men went on an expedition to plunder the very people among whom they were living, only to return to their base camp to find that it looted and abandoned. Their families, along with their possessions, had been taken captive!
When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:3-6).
David inquired of the Lord, and was directed to "“pursue them,” [the Lord] answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue" (1 Samuel 30:8b). David set out with 400 of his 600-man fighting force, not really knowing what was ahead or how they would succeed. He simply put his faith in the Lord and His directions. It wasn't until David set out that the provision for his success was revealed to him. He and his men just "happened" to come across a young Egyptian who had been abandoned by his master three days earlier:
They found an Egyptian in a field and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights. David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.” He led David down, and there they were, scattered over the countryside (1 Samuel 30:11-16a).
The point I want to make is that David did not get the help he needed to be victorious until after he set out to pursue the raiders. Armed only with a word from the Lord, he set out and then all that he needed fell into place. The same will be true for you. You will not find the funds for the missions trip until after you determine that you are going. You will not know where you will find the time (or money) to earn your master's degree until after you enroll to take it. You won't discover the material for your speech until you tell the organizers that you will come and speak. I have made a commitment to write the book about David and Saul, and from this point on, I will discover how to do it and the material to include. This concept makes me think of a quote I use in my goal-setting seminars from the poet W. H. Murray:
Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans, that the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that otherwise would not have occurred. All stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could dream would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute.
Whatever you do or dream you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Only engage and then the mind grows heated.
Begin and the work will be completed.
The lesson for you is this: Decide where you want to go and then trust that the road markers and rest stops will emerge as you go, but usually not before you go. Have a blessed week!