This is a poor translation from memory of a quote by Dallas Willard (I think). The author’s name didn’t stick with me but the quote did, and for two reasons:
I know the statement is absolutely true and
I don’t want to be one of those men.
It seems that for the last five years I haven’t been in my late thirties so much as I have been “approaching 40”. For half a decade now the quote about man’s inability to handle God’s intended role for him has stuck with me, begging the question “What will be required of me, God? And will I be able to handle it?” These questions still haunt me, and all the more as I get a little older and a little better at collecting things like money and position.
When I think of David, the great king, a “man after God’s own heart” I think of a man who endured year after year of assault. I think of a man who time and again sought the counsel of God on matters of war and waited for God to speak. And what’s more, he HEARD God speak. Repeatedly he asked, listened, obeyed, and came out victorious. There have been few men like King David. What pain to be a king. What a great weight, indeed. It makes me wonder why I would even want to be a king.
However, I look around and see few leaders (kings) I could really call good. I look to government and can find few. I look in the workplace and find few. I look in history and find few. I hear Republicans and Democrats alike asking, “Where is the next Reagan?” The great leaders are few and far between it seems and man, throughout history, has longed for kings, but mourned that there are so few who are truly good.
One of the reasons for their scarcity could be that good men are reluctant, hoping one will come along better suited for the task. Good kings take a throne, not for selfish ambition, but because they see a need, and are desperate enough for it to be filled that they would fill it themselves.
Remember Maximus in Gladiator, who refused Caesar’s request to succeed him? Maximus said “With all my heart, No!” And Caesar’s reply? “That is why it must be you.”
Humility and fear are fitting responses for a man who understands that kings are appointed by God for a serious reason.
And so, by the ripe old age of 40, I have repeatedly asked the question of God, “What have you prepared for me?”, but He won’t tell. My question became “Can I be a good king?” He won’t tell me that either. My questions are now more simple and seemingly unimportant to anyone but me. “Should I coach soccer or baseball? Or both?”, “What does my son really need right now?” and “Is this really the best I can do here?”
Daily I go to war, more with myself than with any opposing army. But I do however, feel the tide of revolution in my heart. There is a discontent with the way things are and I have lost the naivete that would have tempted me into a fight that I would surely have lost in my earlier years.
I feel a wiser warrior is rising. There may yet be a king in me. Of what?
God only knows.
By the time David became King he knew God’s love, his strength in a fight, and his intimate counsel. He was a good king because he was tested.
I feel like, at 40, the testing has just begun.