I love to discover and drive obscure back roads here in Colorado! And sometimes I’ll find old building foundations, mining remnants, old tin cans all from another bygone era. And my imagination goes wild! I envision what it must have been like when the mine was fully operating. I wonder about the people who lived there. Did they celebrate Christmas by exchanging presents? What motivated them in the brutally hard environment of a mining town?
Last summer I found a wonderful road for my Jeep to bounce on. It wasn’t even named; just a small sign that read, ‘Rough Road’. So of course on the instant, I swung my steering wheel over and gleefully drove it! And guess what?
This road wound back past a couple of old mining ruins that even today would be considered to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere on the backside of Leadville, Colorado. And so I had to wonder about the miners who had lived there. Surely they had mules, burros or horses because the mine ruins were quite a distance up steep hill with a faint trail that wound along it. I suppose this faint trail connected to the road I was driving on, because there was no other way out. So I wondered about the miner. Or miners? Was there one solitary, tough old man living alone year round working his mine? How did he get his supplies in? Where was his fresh water supply? There was no obvious creek nearby anywhere. Did the mine pay? What initially prompted the miner to tramp up the long hill, and look for gold or silver in the middle of relative wilderness? You see where my mind goes?
And going farther back into time, what would it be like to discover and excavate an ancient city? There would be a lot of dirt to carefully dig away, to see the original glories of an ancient city! What were those people like? What was considered to be valuable? What moral outlook did these folks possess?
We have a very interesting story regarding ancient Israel being completely cowed and verbally bullied by a giant Philistine is recorded in 1 Samuel 17
“The Philistines assembled their troops for war at Socoh of Judah. They camped between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. 2 Saul and the Israelite army assembled and camped in the Elah Valley, where they got organized to fight the Philistines. 3 The Philistines took positions on one hill while Israel took positions on the opposite hill. There was a valley between them.
4 A champion named Goliath from Gath came out from the Philistine camp. He was more than nine feet tall.[a] 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore bronze scale-armor weighing one hundred twenty-five pounds.[b] 6 He had bronze plates on his shins, and a bronze scimitar hung on his back. 7 His spear shaft[c] was as strong as the bar on a weaver’s loom, and its iron head weighed fifteen pounds.[d] His shield-bearer walked in front of him.
8 He stopped and shouted to the Israelite troops, “Why have you come and taken up battle formations? I am the Philistine champion,[e] and you are Saul’s servants. Isn’t that right? Select one of your men, and let him come down against me. 9 If he is able to fight me and kill me, then we will become your slaves, but if I overcome him and kill him, then you will become our slaves and you will serve us. 10 I insult Israel’s troops today!” The Philistine continued, “Give me an opponent, and we’ll fight!”11 When Saul and all Israel heard what the Philistine said, they were distressed and terrified.[f]
12 Now David was Jesse’s son, an Ephraimite from Bethlehem in Judah who had eight sons. By Saul’s time, Jesse was already quite old and far along in age.[g] 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had gone with Saul to war. Their names were Eliab the oldest, Abinadab the second oldest, and Shammah the third oldest. 14 (David was the youngest.) These three older sons followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul’s side to shepherd his father’s flock in Bethlehem.
16 For forty days straight the Philistine came out and took his stand, both morning and evening. 17 Jesse said to his son David, “Please take your brothers an ephah[h] of this roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread. Deliver them quickly to your brothers in the camp. 18 And here, take these ten wedges of cheese to their unit commander. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring back some sign that they are okay. 19 They are with Saul and all the Israelite troops fighting the Philistines in the Elah Valley.”
20 So David got up early in the morning, left someone in charge of the flock, and loaded up and left, just as his father Jesse had instructed him. He reached the camp right when the army was taking up their battle formations and shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines took up their battle formations opposite each other. 22 David left his things with an attendant and ran to the front line. When he arrived, he asked how his brothers were doing. 23 Right when David was speaking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, came forward from the Philistine ranks and said the same things he had said before. David listened. 24 When the Israelites saw Goliath, every one of them ran away terrified of him. (25 Now the Israelite soldiers had been saying to each other: “Do you see this man who keeps coming out? How he comes to insult Israel? The king will reward with great riches whoever kills that man. The king will give his own daughter to him and make his household exempt from taxes[i] in Israel.”)
26 David asked the soldiers standing by him, “What will be done for the person who kills that Philistine over there and removes this insult from Israel? Who is that uncircumcised Philistine, anyway, that he can get away with insulting the army of the living God?”
27 Then the troops repeated to him what they had been saying. “So that’s what will be done for the man who kills him,” they said.
28 When David’s oldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the soldiers, he got very mad at David. “Why did you come down here?” he said. “Who is watching those few sheep for you in the wilderness? I know how arrogant you are and your devious plan: you came down just to see the battle!”
29 “What did I do wrong this time?” David replied. “It was just a question!”
30 So David turned to someone else and asked the same thing, and the people said the same thing in reply. 31 The things David had said were overheard and reported to Saul, who sent for him.
32 “Don’t let anyone[j] lose courage because of this Philistine!” David told Saul. “I, your servant, will go out and fight him!”
33 “You can’t go out and fight this Philistine,” Saul answered David. “You are still a boy. But he’s been a warrior since he was a boy!”
34 “Your servant has kept his father’s sheep,” David replied to Saul, “and if ever a lion or a bear came and carried off one of the flock, 35 I would go after it, strike it, and rescue the animal from its mouth. If it turned on me, I would grab it at its jaw, strike it, and kill it. 36 Your servant has fought both lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine will be just like one of them because he has insulted the army of the living God.
37 “The Lord,” David added, “who rescued me from the power of both lions and bears, will rescue me from the power of this Philistine.”
“Go!” Saul replied to David. “And may the Lord be with you!”
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own gear, putting a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David strapped his sword on over the armor, but he couldn’t walk around well because he’d never tried it before. “I can’t walk in this,” David told Saul, “because I’ve never tried it before.” So he took them off.” Source: biblegateway.org
Okay, just in case you’re wondering, David killed Goliath by slinging a river stone accurately hitting him in the forehead. David then ran to Goliath, pulled out his sword, and cut off his head with his own sword. (As an aside, I’ve always wondered what in the wide world Goliath’s shield-bearer was doing while David grabbed Goliath’s sword, and used it to cut off Goliath’s head? Some shield bearer! He utterly failed in his job, but what do I know? Anyway. . .)
My real point for using this story is that Saul piled on his own armor on David, so that David was practically ‘buried’ in armor that was heavy and didn’t fit him. In fact, it bogged him down, David would have been trapped inside with no chance of winning.
So David TOOK THE ARMOR OFF, and freed himself to be himself! And WON!
I feel as if I was raised under a pile of heavy, immobile, losing ideas of fundamentalism. I have been forced to walk around wearing this untenable load as the ‘knight in shining armor’! Those beliefs didn’t fit me. My core soul identity has been lost and buried for years.
This legalistic, rule-oriented, fear-based ‘religious system’ has buried a magnificent city beneath the armor! And I don’t need to ‘find myself’ so much as I need to excavate myself by removing the layers of heavy synthetic ‘religious armor’ that separates me from normal living, isolates me from loving friendships, and hides my very being deep inside under a lot of dirt.
It will take tedious care, conscientious digging and a continuously applied intent to discover the precious soul that has been buried beneath this heavy load. As the pieces come off, the soul that has been buried will need to be handled gently, given a lot of self-care, as it slowly becomes accustomed to light and freedom!
Saul’s armor is being thrown off, piece by piece. My soul is becoming free!
Now to confront my giants which will flee like shadows from light!
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