"And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats; and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel."
I Samuel 25: 1, 2, King James Version
"Wilderness Time is Working Time"
"(She) who labors diligently need never despair."
Meander of Athens
Have I ever been in a "wilderness" experience where I felt all I was doing was a waste of my time?
How did I react?
Did I later find that during this time when my talents and abilities were apparently being wasted I had really been being trained by God for a work He had for me to do?
"Diligence is a good teacher."
"Let us use the gifts of God lest they be extinguished by our slothfulness."
As we begin to study I Samuel 25, we find a sad event, transpired in the nation of Israel. Their admired prophet and priest Samuel, a Godly figure who for years could be counted upon for his wise advice and astute leadership, died and was buried in Ramah, his home. This, as I read in the Bible, was one of those defining moments when one of God's servants laid down his tools and was given rest from his earthly labors.
But as too often happens when a great spiritual influence is gone, there can be a void. And with King Saul's lack of foresight and heavenly wisdom, the nation of Israel was like a flock of sheep with no shepherd.
What's more, David had already been anointed by Samuel as the future king but where was the up-and-coming monarch? He was, according to I Samuel 25: 1, "Down in the wilderness of Paran." His talents it appears were being unused. His abilities ignored. His prowess forgotten.
Except to come to this conclusion would be totally wrong. That's right. It was in this very wilderness where David's skills were being honed under the watchful eye of his heavenly Father. I have to tell you that I didn't realize this fact until I began to study the writings of many Biblical scholars who observed that it was while David was in the wilderness running from King Saul, his own father-in-law, that he developed the necessary skills and the knowledge needed to protect his countrymen and women when he finally ascended the throne of Israel. Out in the wilderness, he learned to command an army. He studied the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders and military in the countries surrounding Israel.
Futhermore, as one author noted, David became an expert at protecting his own countrymen. The geographical area around Israel allowed for many enemies to strike unprotected borders without warning. However, David and his band of individuals whom the Bible says were, "discontented," became a well-greased machine that worked together harmoniously. And this band of renegades became an admired group of defenders, looking out for the land and livestock of their fellow countrymen. What's more, as we will later see, they were a trustworthy group. Unlike some of the mercenaries, who were even Israelites, David's army of men, were honest in taking care of what wasn't theirs. And so, during his wilderness wanderings David built up goodwill that would be a necessary ingredient during his rulership. David's diligence led others to admire him for what he could do, not what he talked about doing.
It is this historical background which is critical for you and me to understand as we study the life of David and the women he married. Because it helps us recognize that when we are on top, when we have worked hard, and when we are admired and then fall into the devil's trap, the consequences hurt others even more than if people didn't expect much from us.
For today, it is important you and I learn that any wilderness we find ourselves in doesn't have to be wasted time, for with God on our side, it can be working time.
I was recently impressed with a passage written about women by Edward W. Bok. It's easy to think sometimes that individually we are only one person - wandering in a wilderness and we don't understand why. I know this has happened in my own life more than once. Yet, the wilderness doesn't have to be a wasting time. It can be our working time, even if we are only one individual. Here's how Edward Bok describes, "Just One Woman:"
"How many women does she want to be? What more can she ever hope to be than what she is; one woman? What was Florence Nightingale but one woman? Yet her work led straight to the Red Cross! How far would be the humane processes of healing the wounded and sorrowful all over the world today had this English nurse sat down and bemoaned the fact that she was ‘just one woman'? Nor did Florence Nightingale wait for others. When all the medical officers had retired for the night, dog-tired, and silence and darkness had settled upon those miles of prostrate sick, the light of a single little lamp could be seen moving from cot to cot in a solitary round. It was the lamp of Florence Nightingale. ‘Just one woman!'
"Where would the marvelous work done by radium be today if, when bereaved, Madame Curie had folded her hands when her husband passed away and minimized herself by saying: ‘I am just one woman'?
"Yes, but singularly gifted, you say, were these women. Not according to their own testimonies. Quite to the contrary. ‘I had faith: that was all,' said Florence Nightingale. ‘I had confidence, little else,' said Madame Curie, and to their work each applied her fullest aspiration and trust….
"‘But they were exceptional women,' will be the rejoinder.
"They were not, as a matter of fact…Was the mother ‘exceptional' whose six-year-old boy came home from school one day with a note from his teacher suggesting that he be taken from school as he was ‘too stupid to learn.'
"‘My boy is not stupid,' said the mother to herself. ‘I will teach him myself.'
"She did and Thomas A. Edison was the result.
‘Exceptional?' In faith, yes!"
"Before God's footstool to confess
A poor soul knelt, and bowed her head;
‘I failed,' she cried.
The Master said, ‘Thou didst thy best—
that is success!'"
A Wilderness Journey
"Jesus, where are you taking me?
I am afraid,
but to do anything other than go with you
would be to die inwardly:
and to look for wholeness apart from you
would be to lose my true self.
So I come to you,
protesting and confused,
but loving you all the same.
You will have to hold on to me
as we walk together
through this compelling and frightening landscape
of the kingdom of God."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.