Summary: This sermon is designed to help those struggling with seemingly impossible trials overcome.
In 1947 San Francisco’s Potrero Hill was not only a poor South City neighborhood, it was a real ghetto. That year was the year Oren was born. Rickets, a poverty-related disease actually caused by malnutrition, was Oren’s major problem. His vitamin-mineral deficient diet caused his bones to soften. His legs began to bow under the weight of his growing body. Even though the family was too poor to afford braces, Oren’s Mom refused to sit back, sigh, and resign herself to the inevitable. She rolled up her sleeves and took charge. She rigged up a homemade contraption in hopes of correcting her son’s pigeon-toed, bowlegged condition. How? By reversing his shoes! Right shoe, left foot; left shoe, right foot; plus and improvised metal bar across the shoe tops to keep his feet pointing straight. It didn’t work perfectly, but it was good enough to keep the boy on his feet and ultimately able to play with his buddies.
By the time he was about six years of age, his bones had hardened, his legs were still slightly bowed, his calves were unusually thin, and his head was disproportionately large. Nicknames from other kids followed him around: “Pencil-legs”, “Water-head”; but he refused to let all that hold him back. He compensated by acting tough. Street gangs on Potrero Hill were common: the Gladiators, Sheiks, Roman Gents, and Persian Warriors. By age thirteen, Oren had fought and won his way to being president of the Gladiators. For all the fighting, he was arrested only three times; that was the crowning achievement of his early youth.
Those who don’t know his background could easily think he got all the breaks. As they look at him today and see this fine and refined gentleman, they would assume he’s always been wealthy. He lives in the exclusive Brentwood district of Los Angeles, drives a luxurious car, and has his elegant office in an elite bank building. He is now a busy executive with his own production company. He personally handles most of his own financial affairs and business negotiations. He has contract with the media and various entertainment firms and agencies, in today’s terms, Oren has it made. That plush office with the name on the door belongs to Orenthal James Simpson. Yes, none other than “the Juice”, O.J. Simpson.
Everyday of our lives we run into giants. Giants come in various sizes and forms. They come in forms that are difficult to deal with. They show up as problems; uninvited problems. And let me say this to the young and old alike, you don’t have to be over 18 to qualify for giants in this life. Giants are equal opportunity party poopers.
Too many times we make the mistake in believing that young folks don’t have problems, or that they don’t face giants in their culture and world.
But they do. As a matter of fact the youth of today face things that some of us have never faced in life and probably will never face.
Times have changed.
• There used to be a time when Crack
was just a whole in the wall.
• There used to be a time when Coke
was just a soda in a red and white can.
• There used to be a time when Pot
was something to only cooked with.
• There used to be a time when Tricks were only performed by magicians, now we have our young women turning tricks for fast cash.
• There used to be a time when Flipping was only done by gymnasts, now we have our young men Flipping dimes for big dollars.
• There used to be a time when Sweets was something we went to Grandma’s house for.
• There used to be a time when young folks turned their music down by the Church House.
• There used to be a time when winos would hide their bottle when they passed by the Church House.
• There used to be a time when everybody in the community left their doors open.
I could go on and on, but my point is…
THINGS ARE NOT THE SAME!
THINGS HAVE CHANGED!
It seems as though the more years go by, the worse it gets.
Everywhere we turn we’re faced with another giant. Giants at school. Giants at home. We even have to deal with some giants in the Church. All around us are giants. If it ain’t one thing it’s another.
And when we look at David, this young shepherd boy, going to battle Goliath, things don’t look to good. In fact the situation looked almost hopeless.
And hopeless is how the Israelite army felt as they stared up at this 9-foot plus tall giant. And the giant wanted everybody to know that his defeats are many and his losses (well, there ain’t none). Goliath wanted everybody to know just how bad he was. His motto probably was “If you don’t know you better ask somebody!” Goliath’s intimidating stance and attitude beat the Israelite army before the battle had even begun.