A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Ripe for the Harvest
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
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The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
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Acting UpThe Man Who Dared to Dream
By Suzanne Rowe

It's an unusual sight – the man sitting halfway up the barren cliff face at the opening of a small cave. He may have lived a comfortable life once, but is certainly not a soft man now. Not on the outside, anyway. The fingers that should have been tender and gentle, that in times past had plucked such touching melodies on the harp, are now rough, scratched and filthy. He had never been a stranger to the world of hunting and gathering but now his mouth waters as he remembers the sumptuous royal feasts he'd attended and even hosted.

It has been weeks that David has been living on the run here in the arid backblocks of Israel. Even collecting food and water has to be done under cover of darkness for fear of his life. Like his environment, David's exterior may be rough, but his spirit remains as soft and vulnerable as always, perhaps even more so as stress and exhaustion build up.

What went wrong? David had been a hero of the nation. The people sang songs about him. He was an accomplished musician whose talents had been much appreciated and even sought by the king. Indeed, the king had given his own daughter to David in marriage, not that David hadn't had to pay the brideprice of 200 Philistines' foreskins. It was a strange price, but the Philistines were enemies and besides, he would do absolutely anything for that gorgeous woman, his own dear wife, Michal. Michal's brother, the crown prince, was David's closest friend.

Even the esteemed prophet of Israel, Samuel, had made bold claims about David's future. Yet here he sits, alone in this barren landscape.

Today is the Sabbath and he gazes out from the ragged cliff face where he can easily see approaching danger. He remembers Sabbath days past when he would accompany his family and friends with the throngs of God-fearing people flocking to the Temple in Jerusalem.

It is a nice Temple, made according to God's direct instructions, yet David had a secret dream. He yearned to build a Temple of beauty as had never before been witnessed by humanity – a Temple covered with gold, reflecting the sunlight, with thick luxurious curtains within – a Temple which would be a powerful testimony to the nations that the God of Israel is a powerful and majestic God.

David perches on the ledge outside the cave, shoulders hunched dejectedly, looking down now at the rockfall below. His own dreams had also come crashing down around him. He is an enemy of the king, indeed of the nation, with only a few faithful men who insist on staying nearby. He has lost everything – his wife, his family, his position, his career, his possessions.
Even his parents have given in to royal pressure and refuse to acknowledge him. His own dear mother…

It is the Sabbath, after all. Alone on the bare ledge, he turns his thoughts toward God. Surely God won't abandon him. Will He?

God's promises must stand. Mustn't they?

The God who created heaven and earth is certainly stronger than a bitter, twisted, old king … even one anointed by God. Isn't He?

A broken and bereft man, David kneels and sobs out a prayer to the only constant in his life.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation –
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life –
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD."

(Psalm 27 NIV)

Suzanne Rowe is an Australian teacher, usually found working in China with an NGO called 'Evergreen'. She has been primarily conducting English refresher courses for practicing Chinese teachers of English. Suzanne is at present living back in Australia, but is planning to return to China in August 2005.

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