All of my Christian life I’d felt completely unaccepted by the churches…
And now here I was in the middle of things and being completely accepted into the flow of their church… and instead of peace, all I felt was like I was a fraud… like a wolf in a sweater.
Here I was supposed to be on the verge of “having it all”, had all these people acting like I was this Proverbs 31 role model with the women’s ministry… and I felt more like a hopeless mess who would never be able to get her act together.
But it actually wasn’t the pressure from the unwanted leadership position that brought the worst of the doubts.
It was actually a bible reading plan trip through the story of king saul.
I’d been through the story before… but this time it sort of hit a nerve.
You have this guy who didn’t ask for the leadership position he found himself in… and even tried to hide when he was being put into it. I was at a place that I started relating to the guy pretty quick.
So the guy gets some very basic directions on what to do now… including being told to wait 7 days for Samuel to come do an offering.. and then…
1 Sam 10 7 After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you.
So, the signs happened. So thus, he’s been told that God is with him and to do what needs to be done.
So he heads out on his first project as king… and Samuel doesn’t show up in 7 days like he said that he would.
His men are leaving… he has just 600 left out of the 3k that he started with… the enemy is about to attack…
So, Saul does what seems to him like it needs to be done… he moves ahead since it’s past the time that Samuel told him to wait, and things are going poorly the more he waits.
Rather than jumping straight into battle, he offers the sacrifice himself to ask the lord’s favor before doing so.
To me… had I just been told in the earlier instructions to do what needed to be done and that the lord was with me…. this seems like a reasonable course of action to take in the circumstances.
Especially with it being his first task as a leader.
But instead, he gets told that he’s royally screwed up and that it’s enough that he will lose the kingdom over it to someone god has already picked out.
This seems like the dude was pretty much set up for failure from the get-go.
Like he didn’t even really have a chance… he was tossed into something he wasn’t trained for and didn’t ask for, and then massively punished when his judgement in a somewhat vague situation and on his first attempt was to go with the “what needs to be done” rather than waiting longer than he was told to wait.
And so with that, he gets cast as the evil villain against which David’s heroics can shine.
It already seemed a bit unfair.
But reading a bit more, you come to the famous parts that we know well, the story of Saul throwing spears at David out of pure jealousy as David is just sitting there playing a harp.
But there’s a part that is missing from the usual telling of the story.
1 Sam 18 10 The very next day a tormenting spirit[b] from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand
b.18:10 Or an evil spirit.
1 Sam 19 9 But one day when Saul was sitting at home, with spear in hand, the tormenting spirit[a] from the Lord suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.
The verses around here do mention Saul being jealous of David, and afraid of David…. but that’s not what it says caused the spear throwing incidents. How in the world does an evil spirit overwhelming someone just get left out of the common telling of this?
I get it… it seems more connectable to just chalk it up to a human emotional outburst than to blame spiritual influencing here. It’s easy to understand Saul being jealous enough to throw things… but it’s uncomfortable to discuss a spirit messing with someone enough to cause that sort of thing.
But when you are already starting to sympathize with Saul as being set up to fail… and now suddenly we’re getting into direct mentions of outside things overwhelming him and provoking his violent actions….
But even worse… is the phrase “from God” and “from the Lord”.
So, God is causing this.
First off, I’m a bit uncomfortable with God having an evil spirit to send in the first place… to me, God=good, not God=evil.
But then comes into the question…. if God is the one sending the evil spirit to make you do something, is that even a sin if you didn’t have the free will to choose to do it in the first place?
If God is causing evil actions, are evil actions then God’s will?
That doesn’t make sense in my understanding of things.
But to understand my relating more, you have to realize that within the previous few years, I’d been struggling with anxiety attacks… which were only controlled at this point in time by medication. And which feel a lot like a sudden unprovoked feeling overwhelming you.
And so, it’s even more starting to feel like Saul is just being tossed into this story and set up into the villain role…. just because the people wanted a king. But that was hardly Saul’s fault. He seems sort of an innocent bystander being used as a scapegoat.
And getting personal…. it’s starting to bring more doubts to the surface about whether God really had positive intentions for the course of my life either.
I brought these questions and doubts to D… after all, he’s supposed to be an expert in this stuff.
But doing so brought no answers.
My questions regarding Saul were written off as Saul already being going to screw up and God knew that from the start so it didn’t matter if he stacked the deck against him. (Duh, he’s human, of course he’s going to screw up…. but David screwed up too at times and he didn’t get treated that way)
My concerns about my life course were thrown back into my face as selfish. Look at all I’d been given. Even if all I’d been given was eternal life, that was way more than I deserved. Even if God wanted to use me as a human punching bag, it was still better than I was worth. I was just ungrateful and spoiled.
But the thing about doubts shamed into hiding is that they don’t go away. They only lurk in the background… which just makes things worse on the whole feeling like a fraud thing.