A Sometimes Solitary Life
Listen to “A Sometimes Solitary Life” by Fred Smith
If you read biographies you notice a frequent pattern in the lives of many great leaders. Early success and then years of obscurity and hardship – even rejection and exile. Two good examples are Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. Writers and artists may show promise – even brilliance – and then languish for decades before creating anything again. One hit wonders are common in music as are novelists who cannot produce a second best seller.
In other words, early success is no guarantee of longevity or continued success.
These people battle for years with doubt – especially self-doubt.
They wrestle with fear, loss of confidence, loss of direction.
They fail where they used to win.
They face rejection instead of applause.
There is a word for it. Adversity. Albert Einstein said it best, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
It is the necessary transition from the charmed life of early success and admiration to the sometimes solitary but courageous life.
The same pattern shows up in David’s running from an enraged and jealous Saul. Once the court favorite and living a charmed life, he is desperate for a weapon to defend himself. A priest hands him an old sword that has been wrapped and hidden for years. It is the prized and lost sword of Goliath he captured long ago. I cannot help but think of the sword Excalibur in the hands of the rightful king.
That is how I imagine this story of the recovery of the lost sword of Goliath. Here is the true king who has recovered the enchanted blade.
But there is something else in the re-discovery of the sword. There is the power of remembering who you once were even though you are now on the run.
We, like David, when faced with adversity can remember those times we faced enemies that seemed too large and everyone around us was too afraid to act. We can remember those times we were willing to risk for the honor of God with very little concern for our lives or position. We need most of all to remember those times when God was faithful. We don’t need to reminisce – but to remember what God has done and who we really are.
And here, for me, is the essence of the story.
What do you do when the crowds are no longer there and you are betrayed by those who found it convenient to support you when you were the fair-haired boy and in favor with the court? What do you do when you are an exile from what you once enjoyed?
David’s life took a turn that defined him for the rest of his life. He was turned from having a charmed life to a life marked by courage. It’s the hinge point in his life – and often in ours as well. There are circumstances and changes we don’t choose but we face them and that is the beginning of giving up charm for true courage.
*Painting is “Solitary Sun” by Mimmo Paladino