Monday, October 14, 2013


Chris Esty posted that picture with a commentary about how he wasn't sure why he took it.  It's titled "Why?".  My comment, one of a number of others, was that I saw a story.  The picture reminds me of some terrain I'd seen in other pictures.  The recognition brought to mind a scene and a short piece of fiction.


It's said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  In this case, about 850.  The story is in Biblical times and I'll warn you now that, for the sake of the story, I've played a little loosely with some details.

He'd been walking in the heat for several days, now, and was getting tired.  Up ahead, he saw the log that marked the opening of the pass into the Valley of Elah.  He took a few more steps.  "I can rest on the log for a few moments, before going on.  And it'll give me a chance to shake out my sandals.", he thought, as he sat down.  A swallow from his water bag felt good going down.  The desert heat was oppressive.  As he thought about his journey, he knew the reason, but he also wondered, "Why?".

He wished he was still with his flock.  It was cooler and it was easier taking care of the animals than it was trudging along toward the battlefield.  "Oh, Dad, why couldn't we have just waited for news back from the war?  My brothers will be OK.", his mind bemoaned.  He'd heard about the territory he had been travelling through, but never been there before.  He was heading into the unknown.  His doubts had him asking, again, "Why?".

Fortunately, he'd managed to avoid any robbers along the way, but he was getting closer to greater danger.  It was still quiet.  But he didn't have much further to go before he was at the battle.  He was worried that he was likely to come upon stragglers from both sides, as he moved through the pass. And they weren't likely to be be too afraid of a youth, not fully grown yet.  He was well tanned from his life outdoors and muscular from his physical work, but he was still shorter than most.  And these would be seasoned warriors.  He could be in real danger.  The nagging question was "Why?".

He got up and started through the pass.  The going was mostly pretty easy, but the terrain got rougher as he got deeper into the pass, going steadily uphill.  That slowed him down.  No wonder robbers loved places like this.  Their victims had to slow down and there were plenty of places for thieves to hide till the last moment.  He trudged along, slowing even more, to conserve his energy in the heat.  "I need to keep my wits about me, here, just in case.", he thought.  And he continued for a long time, ever aware.  Still wondering why.

He soon found himself safely on the far side of the pass, entering the valley.  There was a lull in the battle.  He could clearly see the positions of the opposing armies.  And he saw where his king was and went to him.  He found his brothers near the king.  They all talked for hours and his brothers greedily ate the food he brought them.  He didn't have to ask "Why?".

He brought the conversation back to the battle.  After all, he was there to get news for his father. And the news wasn't good.  The champions of both armies were doing battle.  That was common.  It kept whole armies from being wiped out.  But kings were betting their entire nation on the skills of one or two men.  Right now, that was a problem.  The other army's champion was bigger than a lot of men and scary looking.  No one even wanted to have a battle of words with the champion.  And our young lad once again wondered "Why?".

He walked out to the center of the battlefield and started bantering with the champion.  His brothers started hollering at him.  They knew what their brother could be like.  Headstrong, acting before he thought.  He might be steady as a shepherd and obedient to their father, but they were certain he was too rambunctious to have any wisdom in anything else.  Him going on the battlefield and trading barbs with the opposing champion could only lead to trouble.  And they knew why.

He and the champion traded a few more insults.  That was enough.  Impulsively he took the champion's challenge.  He trusted his God, but his bravado was fading quickly.  He wondered, "Should I have done this?  I have no armor, a sling is my only weapon.  This isn't going to work.". The army behind him was yelling at him to get off the battlefield for much the same reasons.  They didn't want to become slaves of the enemy because of a foolish boy.  The champion continued to taunt him.  His resolve weakened more.  Then he thought, "I'm a shepherd, now the Lord is my shepherd, I have to trust Him.".  He looked down and saw what he needed.  So, he bent over and picked up five smooth stones.  And David knew.  THIS... was... why!

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