I’m certainly not the biggest fan of Max Lucado. Yet I keep reading his books. I snatch them up when I see them. For beneath the plebeian writing and concepts, there’s a happy humor in the way of faith. For, despite the concessions and platitudes, there is sometimes extraordinariness and usefulness. The occasional smile or useful mental process makes it worthwhile.
In Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado’s book about overcoming difficulties, there’s plenty of smiles. The book ends with a mental device I found interesting, worth repeating to myself, and worth sharing. In the book, he discusses meeting challenges as David (who slew the giant Goliath with a sling) did, through faith and spirituality. At the end, Lucado parallels the five stones that David picked from the stream to take into battle with five principles that we can use to overcome our challenges. The stones of David are our “weapons” against addictions, grief, and the other massive shadows that stride across our minds.
5 Stones of David
As a mnemonic device, Mr. Lucado advises us to map each stone to a finger of a hand.
1. Past… Gratitude
The first stone, the thumb, is the “stone of the past.” It’s not the greatest name because Max doesn’t mean for us to mentally live in the past (if he had, this post wouldn’t exist). Instead, Mr. Lucado tells us that we should examine our past to see where God has come through for us – find and mentally highlight all those moments when He pulled us through.
That means gratitude to me. The memory of our blessings is indeed an excellent perspective from which to look at our current challenges.
2. Prayer… Spiritual Fixation
Moving from the thumb to the first finger, we go through a valley of inwardness. The second stone is the “stone of prayer.” Again, not the greatest name because Max doesn’t mean simply prayer – he means that we should “soak” our minds with God.
Turning our faces upward, gazing into the light, keeping divinity, grace, and love fixed in our hearts. This is the washing that Mr. Lucado is referring to, although his turn of phrase is that this means to fix our “thoughts and desires on the king.” Yet this is no less wonderful or different, for God is a living god. That mental “soaking” can absolutely be done by prayer, yet that fixation of mind is the same flooding with spirit that is essential in Eknath Easwaran’s 8-Pointed Path and is advised by the Bhagavad-gita.
Pick whatever choice of form for the divine, but put your attention there and all difficulties are immediately reduced and become more surmountable.
3. Priority… Egoless-ness
Moving to the tallest finger, we consider our highest motivation. The third stone is the “stone of priority,” but again the outward name given by Max doesn’t correlate to his meaning. He means that we should, from the mental focus on spirit, then turn to our struggle and see it as “God’s canvas” – the ground from which miracles and blessings arise.
And just how? Lucado says that it is by giving ourselves over to God – by willing to die so that the Holy may have this ground in which to work – we create the space for Holy intervention. Give your struggles over to spirit! This is the same turning of ego over to spirit that so many of us learned in recovery:
God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
A.A. Big Book p.63
And I scarcely need cite other examples of the value of egoless-ness. What major religious tradition does not tell us the same?
4. Passion… Fearlessness
The next finger is the “stone of passion” – a sensical name given Max’s meaning, but I’m going to change this one too anyway. Because Max tells us that, with this stone, we must abandon our planning and fearful bean-counting and instead directly move toward the giant (our difficulty) with faith and vigor.
Fear incapacitates. We become frozen in thought and in our cave-hiding. You know this already, and I do too, but we don’t think about it enough.
I won’t change the little finger’s name. The fifth stone is the “stone of persistence”, and this is Max’s call that we always take five stones into the battle – even though we have the faith and strength and fearlessness, and we face only one opponent, let us not give one fight to our struggle and stop there.
Mr. Lucado’s saying that one prayer, one apology, one month might not be enough. Sheer doggedness. The successful person in recovery is not the one who never relapses, but the one who doesn’t quit the program or stop trying. Weight loss is the same thing. The unconquerable is such because of tenacity, nothing more.
I believe that persistence arises from continual inspiration. For that reason, I seek out and share such inspiration online as I can every day. For that reason, I meditate and read spiritually every day. Whatever persistence means in the face of your struggles, keep at it. It’s the little finger, but it’s the last key for overcoming your giant.
I sincerely hope that this helps you overcome your struggles, dear one. May all beings find peace and enlightenment.