Running for Your Life

Listen to the message

Series:  The Survival Guide to Being Human

Sunday 4 September 2016 – Justus Swart

2 Cor. 12:9-10; 1 Sam. 19:8-13; 1 Sam. 21:1-15; 1 Sam. 22:1-5

We are going through this series in order to get a better understanding of our finite existence, which is bound by time, in the light of God who is ultimately sovereign and all-powerful. How does my faith in God impact my life that is so limited? Our existence is marked by mistakes, success, pride, sincerity and all these things, and we somehow have to reconcile that with faith in an Omniscient God. To be Omniscient is to be all knowing; God knows everything. Christianity is not about avoiding sin and wrong decisions because that would negate what it means for us to be human. What we should be doing instead is not focussing on how to avoid mistakes but rather on how to live a life in pursuit of God. When we do that, God can turn all of our mistakes into testimonies of grace. That is really the powerful thing about Christianity, our faith and the gospel. Our story becomes the main way through which others come to know who God is. As Christians we will do well to remember that God’s love is not an abstract truth, rather a personal truth made real when we tell people the stories of our lives. Our broken, feeble and sometimes weak lives are stories that God uses to build the Church. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Paul is not trying to fix all the wrongs in his past but he commits himself to Jesus fully and completely because Jesus had turned his story of hardships into a testimony of grace. This is the miracle of the Gospel: to transform your story into a story of grace, and when you tell your story that is the way people come to know God.

Saul‘s jealousy of David grew inside of him and it eventually turned into hatred and he wanted to kill David (Read 1 Sam. 19:8-13). David’s life was in danger and he had to decide what he was going to do. David fled. In part three of this series, we are going to be looking at the way many people chose to run from their problems instead of turning to face them.

Tip 9: Running is not a final solution: Part of our human existence is facing challenges that often seem to be more than we can handle. When anxiety hits, the instinct is fight or flight; you are either going to run for the hills or you are going to face it. For better or for worse people often decide to run from the challenges. There are a huge amount of different reasons why people choose to run. It is not clear whether running is right or wrong. If we start to scratch the surface of our own lives we will find that we all have a few things we are running from at this particular moment. For many of us running could be a passive process of simply ignoring emotionally draining situations. For others, running could be a very active process of becoming so busy that you cannot see the problems anymore. But for some, running from their problems might be the only way of surviving temporarily. Some chose to run because at the time it feels like the only viable choice that they can make; for others running may mean sacrificing the truth for which they stand as Christians. It can be varied. Was it right or wrong for David to have run from Saul? We know from the story that God did not instruct David to run, yet He did He condemn him either. There is a measure of human agency which allows you to make the choice to run but as long as you know that it is not a final solution. Regardless of whether it is right or wrong, running will set certain things into motion which you have to be prepared for. Whether you are running from certain truths about yourself; from your past, from events that are happening currently or from people who have hurt you or you have hurt, one this is clear: running is not a final solution. It does not solve the problems. When you choose to run, that is not your final stop; there is always more around the corner.

Tip 10: Running from your problems creates more problems: (Read 1 Sam. 21:1-15) Once you start running from your problems you inevitably come across challenges and obstacles. Things began spiralling into chaos from the time David started running. Suddenly, the man who stood tall because of his faith in God was now on the run. David was completely alone and faced many obstacles which led him to lie. David’s actions were wrong yet God showed him mercy. He was going backwards, looking for self-protection, self-preservation and the name of God was no longer enough. David became afraid of things he would on any normal day have conquered easily. He was unexpectedly facing problems he never had before. Fearful and trembling David was humbled by having to feign insanity to survive, giving up his composure and dignity. He built stories on lies, and once you lie, you have to support that lie by building fiction around it. The point is not to condemn David. The fact is when you run you set things in motion and you will face more problems.

Tip 11: You cannot be king in a cave: (Read 1 Sam. 22:1-5) David takes care of his family first, ensuring that they are protected from harm. He then starts to draw to himself all the people that were discontented and distressed. People with deep bitterness and weariness in their soul became drawn to David.  And although we would be tempted to credit David for this, we need to pay attention to the words of the prophet Gad. A prophet’s main mission was to call the people back into alignment. It must have been tempting for David to want to stay in the cave where he was safe, affirmed by his community and hidden from his enemies. Yet the prophet Gad told him to go back to Judah. God had a plan for David but he could not accomplish it while sitting in a cave. David was not commissioned to be the leader of the bitter and the downtrodden; he was commissioned to lead the people back to God. He could not do that while he was hiding and afraid of his enemies. We understand from this that running has to end at some point; it must find a conclusion. Eventually David followed through with what Gad was saying and he became king. This story teaches us valuable lessons about running from our problems. You cannot follow through with what God want you to do if you just keep running from your problems. David had to eventually stop running in order to be who God wanted him to be.

Is there something you are running from that has stolen your focus? Each one of us has to ask ourselves whether God has our full attention. I’m sure there isn’t one person who hasn’t ever run from a challenge, the point is not to be condemning. But we learn that when the problems come, do not try to protect yourself like David did by lying, grabbing a sword or losing your dignity. It never leads to anything good. As Gad said to David, stop running from stronghold to stronghold. Trust God and face your problems. Whether they are problems of reconciliation or forgiveness, face them and do it. Do not keep running. You may be struggling to come to terms with events in your life, turn and face them. Head for Judah because a He is with you, you are not alone. Praise God. God is Sovereign; He is leading you somewhere specific, not a dead-end. Trust Him, follow Him, follow His Spirit; turn and face Him and go towards Judah.