Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

Men Of Valor

1 Chronicles 11:14 - 1 Chronicles 16:35

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Over the weekend I attended a lacrosse game.

This is serious business.  The athletes gather with one purpose in mind:  Victory.

They have prepared for this moment.  Not the kind of preparing that takes place in one afternoon.  The kind of preparing that has taken place day after day, week after week, month after month.

Some of these kids eat, drink, and sleep with a stick in their hand.

They are not just good at the sport.  They are the elite.  The Varsity Squad. What sets them apart is their dedication...their diligence...their determination.

My sons have taught me that the best of the best have something in common ––they have a right hand and a left hand shot.  You are not born with that kind of talent.

You earn it.  Through practice.

Not the kind of practice that takes place in one afternoon...

These boys have shot at a goal until the last light of sun fades behind the mountain.

They have worked their shot until their arm muscles become so sore they can barely even lift the stick.

They have emptied a bucket of balls shooting at the goal, then gathered them back up from all across the field, and then emptied the bucket again.  Again.  Again.

Practicing.  Preparing.

Over and over and over.

That's the mark of a varsity player.

What does this have to do with Chronicles?

Today the repetition begins.  I have opened my eyes to see what I might not have noticed when we read this once before.  Already I sense a different perspective, and instantly my heart begins to be taught.

I have read this story before.  But I didn't see it like this.

In the moments of David's confinement from Saul, I had previously underestimated the power of the army that gathered to his side.

Heaven sent.  Heaven prepared.

Mighty men.  Men of valor.

Men who had prepared for this moment.  Day after day, week after week, month after month.  Men of might.  Fit for the battle.  Whose faces were like the faces of lions.  Men who were as swift as the roes upon the mountains.  (1 Chronicles 12:8-9)

They were the elite.  From every tribe of Israel.

What set them apart was their dedication...their diligence...their determination.

"And they were among the mighty men, helpers of the war.  They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow..."  (1 Chronicles 12:1-2)

I can't help but wonder if these men shot their arrows until the last light of sun faded behind the mountain.

If they hurled stones until their arm muscles become so sore they could barely even lift them.

Again.  Again.  Again.

I love what these men said to David as they came to fortify his army,

"Thine are we, David, and on thy side."  (1 Chronicles 12:18)

They came, day by day, until it was a great host...like the host of God.  Mighty men of valour.  "They were not of double heart...all these men of war...came with a perfect heart...and all were of one heart."  (1 Chronicles 12:33-38)

Now a different picture fills my mind.

Men of Valor.  The ones who live today.  They make up our communities, our congregations, our families.

Mighty men who have prepared for this moment.  Day after day, week after week, month after month.

What sets them apart is their dedication...their diligence...their determination.

Men who work for the cause of Christ until the last light of sun faded behind the mountain.

Who share their testimonies, and their time, and their love of the Lord.

Again.  Again.  Again.

I know one thing for certain...they give their heart.  Day by day.  Week by week.  Month by month.

They are men of valor.  See it there?  In their eyes?

They are witnesses of Christ.  Part of His army.  Part of a great host.

The host of God.

In chapter 13 David consulted with the captains and said, "If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where...that they may gather themselves unto us."  (1 Chronicles 13:2)

I think of the young men I know, both on the lacrosse field and off, in my neighborhood, and in my school.  I wonder what I might do to help them prepare for their moment.  Could I encourage them to become more fit for the battle?  Might I commend them more often on their diligence, their dedication, their determination?

Today I honor those who have joined the ranks of the Lord's army, and those who will.  Who sacrifice all in an effort to say,

"Thine are we... and on thy side."

(1 Chronicles 12:18)

 

Emily Freeman