Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Improvisational Theater
Improvisational Theater (Photo credit: Daniele Zanni)

So [David] pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Achish [King of Gath] said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?
1 Samuel 21:13-15 (NIV)

Improvisation, or “Improv” as it’s known in theatre circles, is a well known form of theatre in which the actors create their character and make up a scene live and in the moment on stage. Improv usually takes the form of exercises and short comedic sketches like you see in shows such as Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Even seriously trained actors struggle with Improv, and many actors avoid it like the plague because it can be incredibly difficult to pull off successfully. Successful Improv actors must be quick on their feet and essentially fearless at giving themselves to a part in the moment.

I mentioned in a previous post that I love David for being both a warrior and an accomplished poet, musician and songwriter. After reading today’s chapter, you can ad actor to the list. David appears to have had a natural knack at Improv. When faced with the realization that he might be taken prisoner by the King of Gath, David goes into Improv mode and begins to act like a mad man. He gives himself fully to the part, even letting saliva run down his beard. Obviously, David must have known or observed insane people before. Perhaps he was imitating what King Saul was like in his more insane episodes. Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist?

It is said the desperate times call for desperate measures. David obviously realized that he was in a desperate predicament, and was willing to risk doing a little Improv to try and get out of it. It worked. King Achish wanted nothing to do with the “insane” David and let him go.

I have always had a deep appreciation for David. Reading today’s story again only deepens my appreciation. David was a capable, gifted, and resourceful individual. There is so much I can learn from him and his example.

Ever More Connected. Never More Alone.

Earbud love 1
(Photo credit: Dano)

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”
1 Samuel 20:4 (NIV)

When the shit hits the fan and your life falls apart at 2:00 in the morning, who are you going to call?

I have heard a variation of this question asked numerous times over the years. I believe it’s a more pertinent question than ever. The America I observe increasingly exists in a culture of personal isolation inside a mirage of community. We connect on-line with strangers thousands of miles away and do not know the names of our next door neighbors. We bow our heads towards our cell-phones and walk down the street in our electronic cocoon, insulated from the flesh and blood people we bump into. In the winter we stay inside our warm homes and make friends with television characters. In the summer we stay in the air conditioning and vicariously experience love and adventure on television.

Never have we been more connected. Never have we been more alone.

I begin to wonder if Thoreau was a prophet. When he talked about the masses leading lives of “quiet desperation” did he realize the silence came from everyone having ear buds stuffed in their ears? Our individual heads are filled with the noise of the millions of song, movie, television and video options that exist at our fingertips. The silence comes from the fact that most often people sitting next to each other in public aren’t talking to one another. In fact, they are barely aware of one another’s existence.

Perhaps I’m overstating it. I hope and pray that I am. I don’t hate technology. I embrace it. It’s just that I begin to fear that when the shit hits the fan at 2:00 in the morning, many people find that they have thousands of names on their contact lists and in their LinkedIn network, but in the moment of personal crisis they realize they have no one they can call to say “help me.”

I am blessed to have what I consider a relatively long list of men whom I would not hesitate to call at 2:00 a.m. and whom I know without a shadow of a doubt would respond to any request with Jonathan’s words to David: “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

What about you?

Striving Against Divine Design

David before Saul
David before Saul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, told him what his father was planning.
1 Samuel 19:1-2a (NLT)

The story is downright Shakespearean. I’m surprised the Bard never penned his own version of the story of Saul and David. Saul is the mad king given to fits of jealous rage. David is the young anointed one whom God has chosen to succeed Saul. What’s worse, David is Saul’s son-in-law and the best friend of his first born son, Jonathan. Saul tried desperately to follow Michael Corleone’s advice and “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” but Saul’s own family members thwart his attempts to whack David.

The problem is, of course, that Saul is trying desperately to thwart God’s own purposes. Like the runaway prophet Jonah, every time Saul tries to oppose God’s will he finds himself running smack dab into it.

God’s designs and purposes are a mysterious thing, but along the journey I have experienced it enough times to know when I sense it. I have watched individuals try to accomplish their own purposes in God’s name and have seen it fail time and time again. I’ve seen individuals striving to stay far away from God while God continuously draws them to Himself. I have experienced God bringing about His purposes despite others active attempts to thwart it.

Today I am thinking hard about Saul and doing a little self-examination. In what areas of my life am I striving against God’s purposes? Where in my life am I being like Saul in my refusal to accept and surrender to God’s grand design? What areas of life to I need to stop struggling and simply  surrender?

Celebrating Madison Kate

IMG_9418 _SnapseedWhile the world commemorates the assassination of John F. Kennedy today, I am commemorating a much more joyous and personal anniversary. Today we celebrate the birth of Madison Kate who was born 22 years ago today. What a bundle of joy she was to our lives that day and what a blessing she continues to be. An amazing young woman with an indomitable spirit. I can’t wait to get to Colorado next week to celebrate her and spend Thanksgiving weekend with her. Happy Birthday, Madison!!

 

The Art of Manliness

David and Saul
David and Saul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did.
1 Samuel 18:10 (NLT)

Manliness is most often associated in our culture with strength, grit, and accomplishment on the field of battle, athletics, or business. King David was, no doubt, a man’s man for his military prowess and leadership. When an entire nation is singing the praises of the tens of thousands of enemy you’ve slain, you’ve got to feel the testosterone surge. I’m just saying. When it comes to masculinity, David was a stud.

But the thing I personally love about David is that there was a balance to his masculinity. Not only could the guy wield sling and sword, fight lions and bears, kill giants and lead successful military campaigns, but he was also a poet, songwriter, and musician. Most of the lyrics we read in the book of Psalms were penned by David. He could express himself and his emotions in beautiful and creative ways. He could play harp and lyre with such beauty that it drove away the darkness and lifted the spirits of those who listened.

Masculinity is much more than the stereotypical muscles, mechanics, and athletic ability. Being a man is equally about walking in the ways of the Creator who expresses His person and character metaphorically in all manner of beautiful acts of creation. There is a balance which we see embodied in David who was both warrior and poet, creator and defender, and man after God’s own heart.

 

Talkin’ Smack

Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!
1 Samuel 17:41-46 (NLT)

Every boy who’s ever waged battle on the neighborhood playground knows the ancient art of intimidation. It has to be as old as Cain and Abel and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cain and his brother didn’t exchange a few words before Cain did the dastardly deed. Watch any sporting event and you will see the competitors constantly jawing at one another and exchanging trash talk on the court, the field, or the pitch.

I found it interesting this morning to realize that even David and Goliath talked a little smack. David let his words fly in defense of God before he let his stone fly. What a sight it must have been for the armies watching on as this shepherd boy refused to be intimidated by the nine foot giant warrior and talked right back.

Today, I’m thinking about the ways the world, our enemy, and others may try to intimidate us. Jesus said that we shouldn’t be surprised when people try to intimidate, speak evil and persecute those who follow. The song by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers is flitting through my mind this morning:

No, I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
but, I won’t back down.

Oops, I Did It Again

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)

I have come to the conclusion that at every level of society, in virtually every situation, we pretty much always get this one wrong.