4/29/2019 9:24:05 AM
My Friend Dave
Pastor Eric Schroeder - Confirmation, April 27, 2019
Family, friends, and Confirmation Class of 2019; These young men and women have heard plenty of stories from me over the past couple years; some were related to what we were talking about in class, and some weren’t. But we have time today for one more. It’s a story about my friend Dave, and I assure you, it has an application that we can take away on confirmation day.
I first got to know Dave when I was in preschool; he was a few years older. The more I found out about him, the more I realized that we had in common, and I grew up looking up to him. He was a farm kid, just like I was, so we shared a love for the outdoors and being around animals. He liked to shoot targets and go hunting, and so did I. He wasn’t an especially big kid, but he was tough, so I wanted to be like that, too. I wanted to be like him in a lot of ways. He was one of those people who seemed to be good at everything he tried: he was smart, he was an outstanding athlete, and he was a good musician, too.
You would have thought that with all of his talents, Dave could have gone to any college he wanted. But Dave took a different path; he wanted to help people, and protect them, even if it meant that he would have to put himself in harm’s way. So he joined the army. And he found another thing that he was really good at. He was a natural leader, so he made his way to Special Forces and was promoted until he was captain of his own detachment. He was looked at as a hero, not just by me, but by the entire local community.
But not everything about Dave’s life turned out heroically. Like many soldiers, he lost a lot of friends, including his best friend, who died in battle. With all those deployments, his first marriage fell apart. He later got married again, and a third time, and just couldn’t seem to make one marriage work. He wasn’t a great husband, and he wasn’t a great father. With all those gifts God gave him, he was far from perfect…and he would be the first to admit it. But he’s in heaven now. How do I know that? Because despite all of his flaws, my friend Dave was “a man after God’s own heart.”
Do you know Dave? If you know who I’m talking about, then you already know that I have never actually met him in person. But I know him, and so do you. I’m just like him, and so are you. That’s what confirmation day is kind of all about. I grew up thinking that I wanted to be like David, and now I realize how much I am like him. The longer you live as a Christian, you’ll realize the same thing, too. But what we will all want to remember above all else, is that not a single day of our lives is all about us. That’s what our friend David reminds us in some words that he wrote a long time ago. Again, Psalm 62:1-2— My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Today is a big day for the 24 of you. You get to publicly proclaim your faith, your status in the congregation changes from a baptized member to a communicant member, and that means that next weekend you’ll be able to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time. But when he was about your age, our friend David was being anointed the next king of Israel. He wasn’t the most likely candidate. You remember how Samuel thought that David’s older brothers looked far more kingly than he did. But God wasn’t looking at the outward appearance, no, “the LORD looks at the heart.”
On the outside, all of you are talented in different ways. Some of you are exceptionally smart. Some of you are quite athletic, and a number of you have wonderful musical talents. But the reason you all get to wear white robes today isn’t because your hearts are so naturally wonderful. You’ve been taught, and you believe the words David wrote a long time ago. Psalm 51 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” That’s true of us all. That’s why your talents aren’t all that we’ve seen. The people gathered here have seen times of selfishness, when you were just toddlers and one of the first words you learned was, “mine!” The people gathered here have seen times of disobedience, when you were told to do one thing and did another. We’ve seen times of greed, where you had enough but you still wanted more. We’ve seen your fights with your brothers and sisters, we’ve heard your disrespectful words and noticed your eyes rolling at times when we give you directions. But what’s more, God has seen all those times, too. He knows what is in your heart. Not just yours, but all of ours. Along with David, we have to say, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”
At the same time, David knew God well enough that there was more to say. Cleanse me…and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God… Personal words from a man after God’s own heart. Words that all of us have opportunity to use on a daily basis. Words that we trust God to answer because of the faith that we have been given. That’s why you have white robes on: because today we are celebrating not how innocent you are, but how forgiven you are, how pure and clean you were made at your baptism, when God washed away your sin through the blood of his own Son and declared you righteous by the power of his Holy Spirit working with the water and his Word.
Did our friend David still make mistakes after he was forgiven? Of course he did, just like we do. And there were times when he forgot where to turn. But even in his worst times, he found out that God’s love is even bigger than our mistakes. We should never take God’s forgiveness for granted or use it as an excuse to do what we know offends him, but we never have to doubt his salvation. If anything, our friend David would want us to learn from his mistakes so that we avoid putting our souls at risk by neglecting our relationship with God through his Word.
The main purpose of today is to rejoice like David did in the forgiveness of your sins that guarantees your salvation, because Jesus died and rose for you to fulfill God’s promise to send the world a Savior. The second purpose is to witness the promises that you are about to make and encourage you to be faithful to them. So here’s the question: how can you make a promise that you are going to be faithful to God for the rest of your life, when you have no idea what the rest of your life looks like? Here’s how… My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
If it depended on you, your future would be awfully shaky. As long as you and your future depend on the God who saves sinners, you are unshakeable—solid as a rock. So stay close to the fortress, no matter where you go. Take God’s Word with you, and you’ll have the same confidence that our friend David did. If you haven’t already, start a devotional routine where you have some time each day to listen to God’s Word and respond to him in prayer. Don’t be a stranger to the church you belong to. Come to the Lord’s table often and receive the forgiveness and strength that Jesus promises every single time. Remember that the same means that God used to bring you to faith are the same tools he will work through to keep your faith strong and growing—the gospel in Word and sacrament.
The bonus is that if we learn from David’s example, we have the confidence that if God alone is our rock and our salvation, not only will he work in you; he will work through you. God spoke through David to give us many of the Psalms. God blessed the nation of Israel through David’s talents as soldier and leader. God kept the line of the Savior going through David and his descendants. What about you? How will God continue to work in your life? Speaking for all of us here, it’s exciting for us to look forward to how God will work through the 24 of you now and in the future of his church. God’s richest blessings upon you today and always. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.