"So David got away and escaped to the Cave of Adullam. When his brothers and others associated with his family heard where he was, they came down and joined him. Not only that, but all who were down on their luck came around - losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts. David became their leader."
I Samuel 22: 1, 2, The Message
"The Legacy of the Misfits"
"God…hath made all men (and women) free and equal. Then why should one worm say to another, ‘Keep you down there, while I sit up yonder; for I am better than thou.'"
Maria W. Stewart
Have I ever felt as though I didn't fit in and that I didn't belong and was on the outside looking in?
Has there been a particular time or incident in my life when I felt I was so much lower than others, there was no place for me?
"We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate."
Lydia Maria Child
"As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold (her) down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might."
(1957) Television Interview
Between the story of David's palace escape, aided by his first wife Michal, King Saul's daughter, and the verses in I Samuel 25 which contain the story of Abigail, there are several key passages of Scripture which for us as women hold a treasure-filled legacy of illumination for daily living.
The first text I want to look at is I Samuel 22: 2. After fleeing the murderous King Saul, David hid in the Cave of Adullam. This was not unheard of during these rough and tumble days. Living off the land wasn't uncommon. And in verse 2 we find the outdoorsman David attracted quite a group of people. If, as I did, you check out a variety of Biblical translations of I Samuel 22: 2, you'll note this gang which became an extended family to David is called vagrants, misfits, losers, discontented, debtors, and those in distress. Sounds like a unique group of friends to bring home to mom and dad and introduce as your buddies and companions.
But this, we find, were the people who felt "safe" in the company of David.
I want to stop here for just a moment and point something out about David as well as the lives of other Biblical characters we admire. It's easy for us as humans to use the "man after God's own heart" line when we are in trouble and desire David's marital history and God's subsequent forgiveness to cover our own frailties and failings. Unfortunately, politicians and pastors often refer to David when their own misbehavior is uncovered.
However, I've never once heard any one refer to the fact that one of the characteristics which I find so admirable in David is that those who felt as though they were outsiders looking in, those who felt they didn't belong anywhere else, were accepted, in David's company. David had no caste system, no litmus test, and no wealth analysis. If nobody else wanted you, David took you in.
This thought really hit home with me because of an email I received several weeks ago. It's not the first time someone has written to me and expressed this sentiment. The person who wrote said that when she came to Transformation Garden she felt like she belonged. But she continued, "If you saw me, you might not want me to be part of the "garden family" just like the people at the church downtown don't want me." And here's where her note brought me to tears. She continued by saying that because she had lost her job, she didn't have any money, so she didn't have nice clothes to wear. And when she went to church, she felt out of place with all the "pretty folk."
I'm not saying someone intentionally made this precious daughter of God feel like a misfit. However, there are many times that we get into little groups of what I call, "people like me." And within this safe environment, where we feel secure, we hesitate to reach out.
This past week I was offered the opportunity to meet with a number of individuals who are jobless and homeless. By the late afternoon when I finished interviewing all the people who wanted to talk to me about the financial and personal challenges they are facing right now, I had tears rolling down my cheeks for I realized very quickly how we are all so very much alike and how interconnected all of our lives are. What moved me the most was that I was also able to talk to individuals who were assisting many of the homeless families as they got back on their feet again. And guess what? There was a common golden thread running through the lives of those who instead of avoiding or turning away from the hurting, like David, said, "You are safe with me." This golden thread was an abiding sense of joyful, purpose-filled living.
Many years ago, when I was working as a nurse, because I was young and a new hire, I was assigned to one of two very old "wards" in the hospital. The new tower was where everyone wanted to work. The patient rooms were well-appointed. The nursing station was spacious and well laid out. Whereas, the two wards in the old portion of the hospital were long and narrow with dark, drab rooms off the hallway. It didn't take me long to come to the conclusion that anyone who wanted to move up in the hospital world wanted to work their way off these units. Add to this the fact that over time, it was also noticeable that any staff person who was difficult to get along with or had a lousy attitude would inevitably get transferred down to these two units to work, making the job of those of us who were Head Nurses even more difficult. One day, I got to looking at the renegade group of misfits I was in charge of and I realized if we didn't somehow, someway, become a cohesive group, we'd end up hurting a patient for teamwork was what prevented errors.
I decided to ask everyone on our shift if they would like to go out together some evening away from work. To my utter shock they all said, "Yes!" In this less stressful environment was where I heard some of the saddest stories of life's tragic consequences. One girl's boyfriend was on the run from the law. She was moving from one place to another, living in secrecy from family and friends. And the other stories were just as bad or worse. This was our work team. Filled with what some would call misfits. But somehow, during the coming months, our rag-tag team became so efficient we had doctors requesting their most critical patients be placed on our floor because a group of misfits became known for their stellar nursing care as we learned to pull together, accepting and caring for each other.
Let's apply this practical real-life situation to our spiritual lives where it is just as easy to look at those who don't act like we do or believe exactly as we do and then, before you know it, we begin to treat these folk like outsiders. We cast them as misfits, as persons who don't fit within the distinct boundaries of our world.
Of all the lessons Jesus gave us, His words of acceptance of the "least of these" and his loving kindness to those whom others chose to castaway, leaves a legacy for you and me today. I call it the "Legacy of the Misfits" and it's laid out best in the words of Jesus, Himself, "Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with His close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw Him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers, ‘What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?' Jesus overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor; the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means. I'm after mercy, not religion. I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders'" (Matthew 9: 10-13, The Message).
"Love's mantle is very large."
"Our Gracious God open our eyes to the greatness of Your love for the world You have created. Renew us by Your spirit that we may share Your Good News of hope and new life of justice and peace of compassion and forgiveness."
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.