1 Samuel 20:18 KJVS

Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.

For me there is no greater story of friendship than Jonathan and David. And in reading chapter 20 this morning, I wept, as if I were apart of the story, even knowing that the two friends are now together in the presence of the Lord! The empty seat was more than my heart could bear without breaking. Because, David would have rather been in that seat than anywhere and continue on with his friend in the work of the King, but, because of a threat against his life by Jonathan’s own father, he could not. And so he leaves the city. His final few minutes with Jonathan are gut wrenching as they bow, weep, kiss and depart.

1 Samuel 20:41 KJVS

And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

David’s heart was broken to the point he “exceeded” Jonathan. David was not only leaving his best friend, but his wife and family as well. And on top of all that, and probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, David would no longer be in the sanctuary of His God in service. And with that thought, I know why God brought me to this scripture this morning.

As I prayed this morning for many of the people on our prayer list, I began perusing the seats of our church with my minds eye. While our attendance has been okay, and I consider us blessed, there are still many empty seats. I’ve been at Victory 24 years. In the same seat most of those 24. Front row, center aisle. Most everyone else has their selected area too. We really don’t mind if someone is in our seat,  we just happen to be creatures of habit. And because of that I can almost do a role call in my mind of who was in Church on Sunday, and unfortunately, who’s seat was empty.

An empty seat in the house of God is more than a number. It’s a friend. Perhaps the reason they are gone is because of something wonderful, like a wedding, a vacation or some other celebratory event. (Like a kidney transplant) Cheryl Metheney 🙌🏼 But at this point in time, its most likely because the enemy has threatened harm. There is an arrow that has been aimed, not only a physical arrow of COVID-19, but a spiritual arrow that is designed to draw that soul away from the presence of friends and the encouragement that is garnered in the house of the Lord. Oh, my heart is as broken as Jonathan’s this morning for those empty seats…

Dave Stull, right side, third or fourth row up, Leona and Clay Yeager, Left side aisle seats, 2nd or 3rd row up from the back, Peggy and Terry Dye, left side, 4th or 5th row-ish, by the window, Charlie and Mandes Richards, same row, and that’s just one corner. There are many, many more. Ed and Patty Eisley, second row back, behind me, my bestie Glo! Front row, beside me. You are not forgotten this morning! Sandra Lancaster, Left side, third or fourth row up from the back, aisle seat, I could go all the way around the room, because I am in a house of friends. And an enemy has come and taken them away temporarily. Praise God the last time we were together we were not as Jonathan and David, we didn’t even know we were about to depart for a very long time. It’s been 7 months since many were in service. Yes, Satan has launched a very harsh blow on the fellowship of the believers.

Everyone has to do what is right for themselves. But this is a reminder to all of us, just because the arrows been launched, doesn’t mean it’s going to hit; and while the day is upon us, we need to serve! Saul, Jonathan’s father, had earlier launched a javelin at David, but it missed! It wasn’t his time. David was going to miss his friend Jonathan and all of his family, but David wasn’t called just for the castle times, he was also called for the days of battle. David had some very troubled days that lie ahead of him, but he continued serving God.

From a castle to a cave

1 Samuel 22:1-2 KJVS

[David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. [2] And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

Troubled time for certain! Saul was after him, his rag tag army of men were not valiant soldiers (at least not yet) they were in distress, in debt and discontent! Wowzer! That sounds like the story of my life! But this same army ends up being warriors. And God will make no less of us in these days we’re facing. Whether you are privileged to continue on servicing in the house of the Lord as I have been, or your in your home because of this stupid virus, don’t stop serving!  You are a warrior on the rise!

If you know David’s story, you know he made it out of the cave and back to the castle. He served God, he fought battles, he made very human mistakes and yet here he is in 2020, still a hero of the faith. Just like my friends that I miss so much at Victory Baptist Church. Granny and Genevieve (Right side, 2nd row back, aisle seats. My ornery friend Jim Bush and his sweet wife Barb, Right side, middle of the church, aisle seats. Linda Simers, part of the Stull tribe in the right hand corner, Jackie and Otis Harris, over by the window. Jim and Trish Harris and Trish’s Momma right behind them. Bob and Brenda Bush and Nic, right side, center of the church, Trooper Jeffrey Hunt bestie them. Many others who have been there when they could, but have not been there as much as they’d have liked.

I know that most of us don’t feel on the level of David our hero of the faith most of the time. But the point of this ramble today is, you have that ability in you. David and his friends had days where that cave had to have gotten the best of them. But they were still victors! And so will you be. I miss you terribly. If you’re not a part of my church, I’m sure you’re church misses you terribly. But don’t give up and for certain, get out of that cave as soon as you can and gt back to the castle. We’re waiting for you!  You are missed because you’re seat is empty.

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