We all feel called by God toward certain professions, toward certain goals and dreams. Sometimes, though, it seems that we merely end up wandering. But as J.R.R. Tolkien once poetically wrote, “not all those who wander are lost”. Reminding us of this, Chris Hill, in his book, “Walking to Jerusalem,” follows the path of King David, giving us a glimpse of the Biblical figure’s long and convoluted journey to his prophesied destiny.
Like David, each of us has our cities to pass through on the way to our destinies. These stops will sometimes cause us outrage and impatience—they may even be places of tears and pain—but each stop helps us grow. Each detour we take along the way is a divine education. And that’s what Hill’s book is all about—learning to recognize those places in your life, and becoming open to allowing God to teach you through them.
Bethlehem, The City of Beginnings
Bethlehem, where David was born, was a small farming town. Like many of us, David grew up within the confines of a tiny world, never imagining the kingship that awaited him. Even for those who grow up in larger cities, our world is often limited to the few surrounding blocks. It may seem that these small beginnings contribute little, but they’re actually valuable places of learning for us.
Hill writes that, in Bethlehem, “David learned how to sing and play the music that would usher him to his next city,” and learned how to “accurately wield his slingshot…using only smooth stones pulled from the ground at his feet.” This is the same type of sling that would later fell the giant, Goliath.
Our formative years are often spent in isolation from the world, where God forms in us the basic skills and desires that will serve us throughout the rest of our journey. Look back at your own Bethlehem with a thankful heart, and consider what it taught you.
Gibeah, The City of Exposure
David’s next stop was Gibeah, King Saul’s capital city, and the place where David was first recognized for his talents. King Saul, having disobeyed God, was tormented by an evil spirit, and was advised to send for David in order to make use of the boy’s musical skill with the lyre. Indeed, when David played for Saul, the king found temporary respite from the attacks of the spirit.
David likely did not imagine that playing music for a fallen, demonically tormented king was an ideal situation when he knew that he had been anointed to be the next king. As many of us would in similar situations, he must have felt some measure of impatience.
But there was much for David to learn. He was exposed to royalty. He was exposed to improper rule, which taught David what not to do, giving him insight and wisdom. Through service, God prepared David for his destiny. So if you’re at the Gibeah stage of your life, do not let impatience take hold—you are being prepared and taught through exposure.
Valley of Elah, The City of Transition
The Valley of Elah is where David faced a giant—and won. It served as the turning point in his life, catapulting him to fame and lofty positions. But it wasn’t easy.
Goliath struck fear into an entire army. He struck fear into a king. His massive frame and enormous weapon were capable of tearing apart any who stood before him.
David, however, wasted no time in volunteering to take on the giant. We see David draw upon his childhood experience fighting off lions as a sheepherder, and from his experience using his sling to take Goliath down quickly and easily.
Not only this, but David showed absolute confidence in the power of God, and whatever fear he might have felt on the inside, he acted as if it were not there. Like David, when the opportunity to use what God has instilled in us through our experiences arises, we must take it.
Each of us goes through our own Valley of Elah—we must choose to have faith and act rather than to cower in fear like Saul’s army. Only by doing so can we claim our full potential.
Jebus, The City of Personal Promise
Before Jerusalem was conquered by the Israelites, it was called Jebus, and was controlled by the Jebusites. David took the head of the defeated Goliath to Jebus, likely as a display of God’s power to the Jebusites, and a promise that David would one day return to conquer the city.
Hill, in his book, writes, “When you overcome one giant, do not take the trophy to a place in your past. Do not bury the trophy in a territory others have conquered; instead, dream of a new territory of conquest and bury your trophy there.”
God places dreams within us for a reason. When tempered with prayer and attention to the will of God, these dreams are often God’s way of speaking to us. Rather than burying those dreams in your past, where they’ll be forgotten, bury them in your future—set a goal based on your calling, and make a personal promise to go after it.