Defeating the Goliath
A True Story
on Nov 17, 2018
I suppose everyone, at one time or another in life, faces that problem I call the Goliath. It is a problem that seems to be the only obstacle to experiencing happiness and achieving our dreams. "If only we could overcome this problem," we think, "then life would be a piece of cake."
The problem I refer to as Goliath could be an illness, financial constraints, confusion of mind, difficulty in understanding a subject at school or having to deal with a difficult person at home or at workplace.
I have borrowed the term Goliath from the giant in the Bible who headed the Philistine army. He was a mighty warrior with extraordinary fighting abilities. Under his command, the Philistine army was unconquerable. Sometimes, Goliath would challenge any soldier of the Israelite army to fight him. But so much was the fear that he aroused in his enemies that all soldiers in the Israelite army trembled in his presence.
It was in the midst of one of those taunting episodes that there arose a young shepherd boy named David who volunteered to fight Goliath on behalf of the Israelite army. David had heard about the giant and how his fighting expertise was worrying his senior brothers and their comrades in the army.
At first, David's challenge to Goliath appeared laughable. Here was a naive boy with nil battle-ground experience about to face a giant with an arrogance born out of spectacular military victories. David's body couldn't even fit in an armour because he was smaller in size.
But alas! The unexpected happened. David killed Goliath by hurling a stone to his head with a slingshot. That victory was so surprising that it has earned David praise from his admirers throughout the ages.
I can imagine how it was that day David felled Goliath. Every soldier of the Philistine army fled in fear with the whole Israelite army in hot pursuit. The defeat of a single Goliath caused on the one hand, every soldier of the Philistine army to be filled with fear and on the other hand, every soldier of the Israelite army to be rejuvenated with strength and courage. It was like Goliath was the only obstacle to the military success of Israel.
As you can see, there is indeed a similarity between Goliath of the Bible and the problem I refer to as the Goliath: the one that seems to be the only obstacle to experiencing happiness and achieving our dreams. And what lessons can we draw from David's victory in dealing with the Goliaths in our lives?
First, we need God on our side. David had a clean heart and loved the Lord with all his soul. And it's because of that reliance on God that he attained victory over Goliath.
Secondly, David used his skill of using a slingshot to defeat Goliath. Similarly, the key to defeating the Goliaths in our lives may be found in the skills and talents God has endowed us.
Lastly, the other lesson we can glean from David's victory is the courage he summoned to face the Goliath. We also need courage to confront the Goliaths in our lives. It could be by talking them out with a counsellor or by asking for help from a person we are intimidated to approach.
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Wishing Others Well
A True Story
on Nov 15, 2018
My dear reader, suppose God asked you, as He used to do in Biblical times, a question that went like this, "What is it that you want me to do for you and do the same thing twice as much to your neighbour?"
It is said that some people are so hateful and jealous that when asked such a question by God, they would have Him remove one of their eyes so that He can gouge out their neighbours' both eyes. Interesting, isn't it?
Will Smith, the Hollywood movie star, aptly captured how people are so hateful and jealous in the following quote of his:
Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like.As for me, I have always strived to rejoice in the success of others even though I have to admit feeling jealous at times, especially when things haven't been going well on my end. Like there is this lovely friend of mine called Wilson Chira who got accepted at a top American college ... okay, let me tell you the full story.
Wilson Chira and I were classmates in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre. We both participated in piano-playing competitions at the Kenya Music Festival in our high school days during which we won a number of certificates including on the piano-duets we played together. It is interesting to note that in 2003, I won an award as the best Music student in junior high school while in 2005, he won an award as the best Music student in senior high school.
Overall though, Chira was brighter than me in the first three years in high school because he out-performed me in all end-term class rankings in academics. But when we got into Fourth Form, I trounced him in "Index" exams and after that, he never managed to catch up with me in all the exams that followed.
When our high school days came to an end in 2005, I chose to return to Starehe to pursue a Diploma in Information Technology in the institute division of the school while Chira was selected for a gap-year at Armidale School in New South Wales, Australia. That year in 2006 when I was in Starehe Institute and Chira was in Australia, we both applied for admission to colleges in the United States.
Back then, I thought I stood a better chance of getting accepted into the American colleges than Chira because of the free access I had to Starehe teachers who gave out recommendation letters required by American colleges. Imagine while I could walk into a teachers' staff-room at any time of the day, Chira had to send someone to Starehe to organize on how he could get recommendation letters and a high school transcript. How unfortunate he was! Or so I thought.
Come March and April 2007, I was rejected by all the four American colleges where I had applied for admission: MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth and Stanford. For a few days, I thought the same fate had also befallen on Chira but I didn't dare ask him if that was so.
Then one morning in April 2007 as I was walking on a highway in Starehe, I saw Chira approaching in the opposite direction. And some spirit inside me expected him to share with me the agony of getting rejected by the colleges he had applied for admission. But alas! When we met and began talking, he apprised me that he had been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania - an Ivy-league institution! And here had been me thinking I stood a better chance of getting accepted into top American colleges than him - how surprising!
To be honest, I felt an inkling of jealousy at Chira's success but I tried as much as possible to rejoice in his achievement. As a matter of fact, I sent him congratulatory text messages later on and even advised him to organize a fare-well party before leaving for UPenn. Such is the kind of spirit that I am cultivating in myself these days: one of being enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own. Adieu!