Thursday, 5 March 2015

Giants in the Land

Selwyn Hughes had a series about bringing down giants. That got me thinking about Jack the Giant Killer. What do you know of him? There is one Jack, of pantomime fame, but I think it was a beanstalk he had to tackle, which, when he had chopped it down, caused the ogre to fall to his death. But Jack the Giant Killer was, I believe, a brave Cornish lad who refused to be intimidated by these great bullies who were robbing the people of their crops and making their lives a misery. Armed only with his club he took them on, one by one, until the people had courage to go on with their daily lives.

The Israelites had to go in and claim the Promised land, even though there were giants there, and if we are standing in the name of Jesus, then we too have battles to fight, and we have armour too that we must never take off. So, what are the giants that come against us?

We may know about Goliath, a huge monster of a man, out to intimidate so that the Israelites did not dare even face him. But we know about David too, who did not need any man-made armour but went against him with just his sling and stones, and his confidence in the Lord his God. Goliath fell to the ground and David cut off his head with the giant’s own sword. But did you know that wasn’t the end of the fight?
Later on in his life we hear of other battles against giants. Maybe they were baby giants when David fought his first battle, but babies grow up. And because we have had past victories over some of our ‘giants’ does not mean we can let down our guard.

So what are our giants? Somebody was sharing his need to guard against ‘pride.’

Well, that is something I don’t have to fight, was my first reaction. What was that if not pride? As one preacher, hopefully tongue in cheek, remarked, ‘You should have heard my sermon on humility.’

But – are we Giant Killers? I doubt it. I know that though I may have had victories in the past, I always have to be on my guard. As a young woman I  struggled with jealousy and a sense of inferiority. I was sorry for myself because, there I was in the middle of the family, not pretty or clever like my older sister, not the baby, who everyone knows is special, and not the eldest and a boy at that.

Wonderfully, Jesus came to my rescue. He showed me that all this jealousy and sense of inferiority was because self was on the throne instead of Him; that God had raised him up, a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.* All I had to do when these negative thoughts arose was to cry out to Jesus to save me. I still sing that wonderful hymn, ‘Jesus saves me now,’ when the giant of jealousy or depression rears its ugly head.

Once I had cried to God for deliverance, it was as though he took away every cause I could have for jealousy or self pity. But those giants are not dead. I still have to be on my guard. When bereavement strikes, in whatever form, I believe we have to purpose in our hearts to praise and trust our God, believing that he won’t allow anything to happen to us unless it is for our good. As David says in Psalm 59 (GNB) ‘My refuge is God, the God who loves me.’

But remember, if we are doing well at school, we get put into a higher class, and the lessons get harder.

Maybe the giant you are facing now is different from mine, but we are likely to come up against them all at different times.

Selwyn Hughes names a few. The giant of Fear? I still have to speak out God’s word to send him packing. ‘God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.’ 
Lust? We are true to our partners, not because we do not find others attractive, but because we love our husbands/wives too much to ever think of stealing from them. How much more must we determine not to hurt our Saviour, who loves us so much, by desiring lesser things.

Do we struggle with Shame; the shame of past memories perhaps? Is not this a form of pride? We don’t want others to think we are capable of having stooped so low. But we are all sinners, and whenever we hear of someone committing what we may consider a terrible sin, we need to remind ourselves, ‘There go I, but for the grace of God.’

Then there is Giant Despair. Do you remember how, in Pilgrims Progress, Pilgrim and his companion had wandered into Bypass Meadow and were taken captive by this giant, and locked up in Doubting Castle. In this hopeless situation, Faithful realises that he has a key, the key of faith that will unlock every door. They speak out the word of God and are released from their captivity.

Thank God, however deep our depression, we all have this key, which is also our sword; the Bible, the Word of God. I trust we will all remember to use it so that, like Jack, we can become Giant Killers, or at least Giant chasers.     

*Acts 5:31

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