I carry a stone in my pocket.
It’s a small stone given to me by a speaker at this year’s Blueridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference near Asheville, NC. As 500 aspiring writers sat in the darkened auditorium, we were reminded of David who walked up to Goliath with a leather sling and a few smooth stones.
He was just a shepherd boy. A shepherd boy who saw and heard the world for what it is. When he looked at Goliath, he didn’t see a giant. He saw a target. Remarkable that he hit him between the eyes? Not when that is what he was aiming for. He didn’t hear that Goliath was a giant. David heard God reminding him that he is God’s heir.
He saw advantage when others saw defeat.
Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book David and Goliath dissects David’s miracle and explains that during this first generation of warfare, there were three groups of warriors; Calvary in chariots or horseback, foot soldiers, and artillery that consisted of archers and sling shots. It was entirely possible for a trained soldier to place a stone precisely on a target more than two hundred meters away.
The problem was the trained soldiers saw a giant. David saw God. The soldiers saw Goliath’s strength, David saw his weakness. It may be possible for a soldier to propel a stone at a target two football fields away but it’s a different matter facing a freakishly big and blood-thirsty killer. To have calm nerves, to have the inner strength, to see opportunity, to see God, is the miracle.
Gladwell tells us that after reviewing a list of historical great, revered, and successful individuals, he found a high percentage who experienced significant trauma as a youth. Many of them lost a parent. Is it an advantage to lose a parent? I don’t think any of the individuals would see their grief as an advantage. However, it is likely that going through a horrific loss made them more resilient—made them stronger.
As we drove through the gate at Ridgecrest for the conference I looked at Lori and said, “You know it’s because of Aaron that we are here.” We were still excited, but our excitement was shaped by the reverence we have for our son.
I count it a gain that he is with his Father in heaven. Don’t get me wrong—I still hurt, but in my grief, I don’t see a giant—I see a God who has a plan. I see a God who wins. I’m not over it or past it. I’m not better. And I don’t have closure. But I am stronger.
It has taken me four years to get to Ridgecrest. Mountains were climbed, valleys were slogged through. Storms, sweat, and shivering nights have filled the time. The apostle Paul calls this gain. I call it work. Somehow through it all, my sense of humor remained, my vision cleared, and my sensitivity strengthened. Somehow, I grew a story; I grew a purpose.
“God, I miss him, I miss him bad.” I still want him back, I’m still human but maybe I’m like a shepherd boy who doesn’t see giants.
I hope you will see and hear God today. The thing is you gotta stop and you gotta listen.
I saw God in a little woman who gingerly walked across a stage to a smattering of applause to accept an award. I saw him in a woman who told 500 of us that her infant daughter was thrown from her car seat and onto the highway, and I heard God in the man who was beaten for four days and left for dead because of his faith.
I love the old story about the Native American who stopped on a busy New York street to find a chirping grasshopper in a darkened corner. When asked how he heard that, he took some change out of his pocket and threw it in the air. People stopped to look when they heard the money hitting the pavement and metal grate.
“It depends on what you are looking for,” he said, and he walked away.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.