What’s your weapon of choice?
There is so much power behind the story of David and Goliath. I have always been told it is a story of David’s bravery and faith that God would help overcome Goliath even though the odds were stacked against him. But lately, as I have found my faith growing and deepening, I think there is more to the story. I used to think the reason David chose a sling as his weapon because he was just a young ‘un, and liked to use a slingshot, and he had more faith than the warriors around him - so he trusted God would make it all work out right anyway. Hmmm. I think I was wrong about that. I think David knew the power of a sling. Sling bearers were an important part of the military. But there was an entire army right there trembling in fear. Seems like they should have known the power of a sling, so it is kindof amazing nobody else thought of it, but it also explains a lot about David. He was smart.
David knew what he could do with a sling, and he knew God was not going to let Goliath stand. He assessed the situation, and went out to fight in spite of the fact that the King and other warriors thought he was crazy. Goliath was huge, and he had a spear, so the normal protocol would be for a huge warrior with a spear to go out to fight. That was expected and the norm. But David didn’t see it that way - and he used what he had to make a difference! That’s the thing that sets David apart from everyone else who was there that day. His weapon of choice was the sling, and when he used it, he set into motion a series of circumstances that changed history for the Israelite people.
I feel like we have done something similar with The Torch. Not that I necessarily think we are changing history, but Sarah and I experienced the system, and deeply believed there had to be another way to help people. We used what we had. It wasn’t money or power or influence. Life isn't always about money and power and influence, which is good, because we didn't have any. What we had were Sarah's culinary gifts and business sense, my abilities to communicate and make connections, our compassion for people in need (which I personally think is everybody at one time or another), our faith in God, and our willingness to allow Him to move us to try something new.
Believe me, there were scoffers, and doubters, and critics. We were even told our Torch business plan was dumb, and that it would never work - and from a conventional business sense, it shouldn’t! But for all those Negative Nancies, there are just as many people who are able to step away from the conventional way of doing things, and are ready to approach problems from outside the box. And they have become our encouragers and supporters. And God has taken the gifts and talents we have, and is using them to reach out to people in a new way. We are trying to let our gifts be His hands and feet.
And many other people have gotten involved who are doing the same thing. Did you know we have crafts and games at the food truck now? NOT because of Sarah and me! Not at all. To put it bluntly, we both suck at crafts. Between the two of us, there isn't enough craft talent to fill a thimble, if you know what that is. But one day our friend, Melanie, asked if it would be okay for her to bring craft materials and make crafts with Torch people. What a blessing! There is no way we could have made that happen. But Melanie chose to use what she had - crafting and artistic abilities - and make a difference. And it’s working! Even now that we are outside! It’s working! So cool! We are at more than one location now, but our friend Kayln has stepped in and is making crafts happen at the place Melanie can’t attend. Their unique perspectives make it so much fun for the people joining us for dinner.
Then there is our friend, Jen. She is a hair stylist. She volunteered last summer to give children free back-to-school haircuts at our back-to-school event. Jen is a gifted hair stylist who is now using her gifts - and faith - in her mobile salon - Inner Light Traveling Salon. She has told me several times that what we have done at The Torch inspired her to do what she is doing. To that I say, "Yippeeeeee!" She gets it! And I can't forget another great example, my pastor, Scott Crownover. He is the same way. He is a professional actor who realized he could use his gifts and talents as an actor to start a church - for artists of all sorts! And now we have the greenroom! His faith, plus his gifts and talents are a blessing to so many people - and I personally have been inspired and pushed to grow closer to God because of Scott's step of faith. Who knew hair cuts and acting could be formidable weapons? But they are!
So, therein lies the key that David apparently understood intuitively. Let your gifts and talents set your direction, then let your mind be open to what God is doing in the world around you - and find the way you can step out in faith and do something to change the world. Do it differently than everyone else, because that has such an impact! David's choice of weapon was a sling, Sarah and I cook and organize and plan, Melanie's and Kayln's are crafts, Jen's is styling hair, and Scott's is acting and speaking.
What if we all lived such a lifestyle that random acts of kindness were the norm? What if so many random acts of kindness were being performed in our community, that each day became an adventure because we would never know what unexpected blessing was coming our way? One of the reasons I enjoy checking the Torch’s email account is because I never know what I am going to find in there. We have met amazing volunteers, had surprising donations, and been blessed to hear from so many people through that account. I always have a pleasant sense of anticipation when I get a chance to check the email. Sometimes, I just check it because the day is going rough, and I never know what happy surprise might await.
Unexpected surprises and blessings can bring a smile to my face, and turn the most difficult day around, even if they don’t solve all the problems I face. Random, unexpected acts of kindness make this life journey feel less lonely. They don’t even have to be costly or difficult. Have you ever caught somebody’s eye unexpectedly in a grocery store or some other public space, and had them give you a friendly smile? Unless they work there (or sometimes even if they do work there) - that can take me by surprise, and I always smile back. It has become my goal to be the first person who smiles. It’s not like it’s hard to smile, but I don’t always do it. And it costs me nothing - I have to practice to make it a habit.
I can’t tell you how many times, when we are out serving dinner, moms have told me they did not know the food truck was going to be in the area, and followed that comment by telling me how much they truly appreciated it because they didn’t have to cook that night. And I always say, “Good! That’s why we are here!” Unexpected guests to the truck are a blessing to me! Unexpected meals are a blessing to them! It’s a win-win situation.
I know that recently there has been a resurgence of the random acts of kindness movement. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that movement, except I wonder if it sets limitations on kindness. In some ways it is sad that we get so excited when we do one kind thing for a stranger every so often when we are prompted to. But, what if that were not the novelty, but the norm? I think the random acts of kindness movement does not go far enough in its challenge to humanity. If we really want to change the world, our everyday lives should be populated with random acts of kindness to those around us - over and over again, regardless of whether or not those acts are Facebook-worthy.
It would be awesome to live in a society where, instead of dreading the moment we have to face the world, we are filled with pleasant anticipation and excitement because we don’t know what unexpectedly lovely thing is going to happen that day. And wouldn’t it be equally as exciting to prepare for the day wondering how I will be able to surprise someone else, and even how many surprises I can make happen? What would this world be like if random acts of kindness were the norm, and the desire to surprise others with our random acts of kindness consumed our thoughts and kept us alert and watchful for opportunities? Just thinking about a world like that makes me smile in anticipation! I think I’m going to start a movement called, “Lifestyle Acts of Kindness”.