By Kelly Smith
“I wish I were already a grown-up,” my ten-year-old daughter said. “Then I could actually be all the things I want to be.” She looked out the window of the car, her blue eyes longing to see every dream come true. A chef, a mother, a teacher, Commander in Chief. Her vision for the future changes with each turn of the calendar page. She looks ahead at what could be, what will be.
As she waits in this not-yet stage of life, she builds a foundation for what is to come. She practices new skills that will one day become second nature to her. Kissing her brother’s boo-boos, cooking al dente pasta, intercession for a friend. I watch her grow and learn as her future takes shape right in front of me.
The training ground of childhood provides the uphill climbs necessary to build strength for adulthood. Pushing through girl drama, geometry, and sibling rivalry prepares her for the inevitable trials waiting for her in her grown-up world. With each victory, her heart will build strength until it beats wildly with the passion God placed in her.
In that moment, when all she imagines becomes her reality, she can look back with clear eyes to see how the footprints of her childhood were mapped out by a Creator who knows what was, is, and will be.
In 1 Samuel 17, David, a young shepherd boy, volunteers to face Goliath, the menacing Philistine threatening the people of God. He takes a slingshot, five stones, and the presence of God into battle. With one shot, he hits Goliath in the head. As he falls, the Philistine army runs.
I wonder if David could envision his own winding path as he stood over the giant, facedown on the battlefield. Earlier that year, the anointing oil of royalty touched his head (see 1 Samuel 16). This would-be king spent the days following his anointing in the fields tending sheep. David sat on a hillside, shepherd’s staff in hand, perhaps wishing for the day when he could be everything he wanted to be.
God doesn’t waste time. As David did the menial work of shepherding, he learned how to control a flock, how to bind wounds, how to survive, how to slay vicious beasts. The sun rose on his face, and he soaked in the rays of God’s glory. He danced to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat.
David stepped out of a hero’s training ground and into his destiny as savior of a nation. He made the transition from protecting his father’s sheep to protecting God’s chosen people seem as easy as crossing a threshold. He simply laid down his shepherd’s crook and took five smooth stones in his hand. Using the skills he developed on a hillside in Bethlehem, David took down Goliath in one shot.
I often look out the window of my life like my daughter does. I look ahead to all I want to be and do. I wish away the present, with all its monotony and hard edges.
But God doesn’t waste time. If I listen closely, I can hear the rhythm calling out to me from the road ahead. I begin the dance of hope, moving forward with joy because I know today is practice for tomorrow. My hard-fought battles strengthen my arms until I can carry the weight of my God-given assignment.
Set your eyes on what is to come, but do not wish away your time on the hillside. God is not wasting our time. Here in the mundane, we experience God’s faithfulness. Our hearts grow stronger until they beat as one with his. Each lesson learned brings us one step closer to the threshold of our destiny.
Kelly Smith is a small town girl who married a small town man. They have three children. In the quiet minutes of her day, you will find her at the keyboard or curled up with a book–always with coffee. Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking in the shadow of the cross. She blogs at mrsdisciple.com.
Photograph © Annie Spratt, used with permission