I remember watching the Olympics and each time feeling like it was me running for my country in one of those races, stretching my body, head first, toward the finish line, and of course emerging as winner of gold. It made me giddy all the time seeing elated athletes who'd spent years of their lives practicing for just one big moment.
Now, please allow me to re-introduce a true Olympian. David.
Most of us know him as, 'a man after God's own heart.' Yet, being labeled as that is just a tiny reflection of the sea of his life. It's just a scratch on the surface. A peep into a giant hemisphere. It's a phrase with only 6 words, yet so intensely sedated with underlying power. I don't want you to sit there and only scratch the surface any longer. Let's go a few inches deeper to unravel what we might not have known before.
See, some of us will not know what a race means until we've truly run the race and reached the finish line, cutting through the ropes with our hands lifted high above our heads in demonstration of sheer happiness, with teeth all showing, knowing that our Olympics was highly successful, ready for the gold medal to be thrown around our necks. I doubt David knew. He was just like you and I in his early days. Not a king. Didn't even dream to be. A nobody. From a small tribe. He was only a young boy living for the thrill and excitement of life. Yet, all we see today are his numerous accolades at the end of his life, and he becomes a hero of faith in our eyes. I am amazed and truly humbled by his story. His life is one of the greatest and also one of the most challenging ones I've ever come across.
♕ THE BEGINNING:
He started out as a young chubby lad working with sheep in the 'backyard.' And yet, when some of us are told to take baby steps in the backyard, what do we do with those steps? We cry wolf and wail, "why me?" We say, "I don't want to be here, I know who I am." Or the famous line, "I am better than this." What did David do? He practiced with his bare hands, no tools...just hands, as he couldn't use weapons yet. He used what he had and saw the magnificence of God as he tore down the bear and the lion which came to attack. Yes, as funny as it may sound, the backyard was where he learned how to spell the word 'M-I-R-A-C-L-E.' He did not skip school in the good ol' backyard. He was there every single day learning precious little concepts which would later re-surface in the latter part of his life.
Some years later, who would have thought a prophet would come with a bottle of anointing oil, by-pass all his older good-looking brothers and choose the youngest of them all, him, only still a ruddy-looking boy who was not even present in the gathering (still in the backyard) to be anointed as king? Because God strictly instructed the one who came with the oil,
"Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV).
Readers, you need to tell yourselves you are able to compete in the Olympics of your life. Do you think it has anything to do with the way you look? Are you too skinny? Too chubby? Don't think you are the right height? Ladies and gentlemen, God spent a lot of time in molding you just the way you are right now. You are beautiful and by all means meant to look the way you are. Are you still in the backyard though? Yes, stay right there fixated in the place God has allowed you to thread until you are anointed (and fully equipped) to move to the next level. Cultivate the garden of your heart, because that's exactly where God is looking. Not on your immaturity. Or your appearance (by the way if you keep training, you'll blossom into the most amazing sight to behold in the years to come). The truth is, the training for the Olympics begins in your heart. Be faithful, be diligent.
♕ THE ASSUMPTION OF CHARACTER:
Still, after such an anointing (and knowledge of who you are meant to be), it takes so many years to get there. It is not the day you have a dream or know your purpose that it happens. But see, David did not wait to be crowned as king before he began to talk like a king, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living Lord?" It would take so many more years before he actually becomes king, yet we see how he attains the stature of a king still. In the mean time, he was employed as an assistant to the current king, went out to fight for his country, and fought like a valiant knight. What are you doing while you're supposedly waiting for the crown? Are you waiting for consolation? A "sorry darling, that thing you're waiting for has not yet come"? Then your wait is in vain, because you are already a king-in-the-making who is wasting precious time. It's not when you ascend the throne that it shall be victorious with you. Go and take up the land now, victory awaits you now. There are Goliaths to be slain.
♕ THE PRAISE IN THE STORM:
That's not the whole story. We all want a picture-perfect anointing, but what would you do if, like this Olympian, while you are waiting for the anointing to take effect, it seems like the opposite is happening? In David's case, the current king became jealous and tried to kill him so he had to run away to a distant land where he wrote psalms like Psalm 11 where he said, "if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" and in Psalm 59, "Deliver me from my enemies, O God...O, my Strength, I will sing praises to you." Would you still praise God in the heat of the anxiety? If you don't know how to worship in the toughest of times, then you are not living life like a true Olympian. A true athlete knows that the end is different from the beginning and you have to keep worshiping the One who will make all things work for your good. Faith is the evidence of things not seen.
♕ THE LETTING GO & LETTING GOD:
Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. There are opportunities that seemeth right, but are at the wrong timing. What would you do if the one who tried to deplore your destiny is at your mercy? This Olympian, David, many years later after he had fled to the mountains to hide from those who tried to kill him, had the chance to kill his main attacker, Saul, twice yet he did not dare to "touch the Lord's anointed." Instead he said to God, "From Your presence let my vindication come. Deliver my soul from the wicked by Your sword, (Psalm 17:13). Something tells me that a wave of humility hit him those two times, reminding him of the "backyard" scenarios where, by God, he tore down the bear & lion with his bare hands. If God would do it again he wouldn't need tools. And God wouldn't need him either. Dear Olympians, because you've been practicing for many years does not mean the opportunity clad in gold and velvet right now in front of you is the right one. Wait for the God-opportunity.
♕ THE FINAL STRETCH:
Still (and you won't believe this), it would be many years before he becomes king. Saul is eventually killed in battle and David still mourns him. And even then, David is not crowned king of the entire Israel, but only of a sub-section of Israel--- Judah. He was 30 years old when crowned as king over Judah. And after that, it would be seven years and six months until he'd be finally crowned king of the entire nation of Israel and would rule for 40 years exactly. Some have tried to calculate the number of years from the time of his anointing as a boy to when he became king, but the Bible does not say explicitly. All I know was that it was a long journey packed with lots of training, but worth every step of the way.
Such an amazing race. Such a powerful journey. Such a beautiful encounter from boy to king, yet through humility and a heart ready to do it God's way. I observed while reading the books about David, that nothing else mattered to him other than being in the presence of God at all times. He secretly knew that this was the essence of life and victory. His 'All-in-All.'
The main thing is, with God we will always be Olympians from Day 1, not just when we reach 30 years of age or when we think it's time for our purpose to be unveiled. He has already painted our faces on a victory picture, but it's how we see the picture that matters. David saw it right.
Although, I was still only scratching the surface, I hope I've been able to re-introduce to you, in a way you've probably never seen him before, the true Olympian commonly labeled as, "a man after God's own heart."