M had another belt test in Tae Kwan Do this weekend, but this time he tested with the 7-12 year old set instead of the younger students. He did fantastic, really showing improvement in several areas, and even broke a board with a spinning back kick. But it was different, watching him among mostly ten and twelve year olds. I was struck by how small he was in comparison, how tiny his hands seemed, how a few years increased their focus and ability. He had my grace in that moment, in that he still is so young and doing what he can for his age. And even the older kids still stumbled with board breaking and sequence recall. When put under pressure, even their faces cracked with the fragility of youth.
The next day, our pastor began a series on faith, starting with young David. If you’re not familiar, David was just a boy when he arrived at the Israelite camp, shocked to find that they were cowering in fear of Goliath, the giant Philistine warrior. David, just a boy. I’m not sure how old he was, but I pictured M, dwarfed in size and ability by kids merely a few years older than he, going up against a giant.
“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine,” David told the Israelite king. To the giant he proclaimed, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:37, 45, 47)
There was nothing to make David think he was capable of conquering Goliath–every logical fact was against it–except his faith. He believed. He trusted. Whether it was lions or giants, he knew that even more powerful than all visible facts is the living and mighty will of God. The real battle is often not the one we see–the giant with spear and the boy with stones–but the battle to believe that what God asks of you is possible.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
It starts small. For David, it was shepherding, and for M a belt. For me it’s been a variety of things, from a lost wallet to an Oreo to an unexpected donation. Each time I hope something will come true, but through myself I can only hope. Faith is knowing they will, and when we know they’re real, as David did, we act on these hopes. It is through our actions that we gain assurance–proof that faith makes the impossible possible, that we are meant for more than what our human expectations tell us we can achieve. It is through our action that the battle is won, regardless of the true outcome.
I pray that I welcome these small but important moments to practice my faith, that I not only hope but through Christ believe, act, and witness the transformation, not just on the outside but on the inside. And I pray also that someday, when I’m ready, there’s a giant. I’m looking forward to introducing it to the almighty hand of God.