Posted by: Mike Willoughby | March 9, 2011

A Roller Coaster Life for Character (Part 2)


Last week I wrote about character building experiences and I quoted the words of King David who knew a thing or two about living through challenging times and learning valuable lessons.  I pointed out that we seem to naturally know that how we respond to adversity says a lot about our character.  While I think it is very true that trial and adversity do have a great deal to do with shaping character, I also think it’s true that God wants to work through the good times and victories to shape our characters as well.  Let’s remember the roller coaster has peaks as well as valleys.  God works in the peaks too!

Perhaps David is best known for his victory over the giant Philestine, Goliath.  By the time young David faced off against the giant warrior, David had already enjoyed a succession of victories against other powerful foes.  Read David’s account of his experiences in I Samuel 17:32-37:

And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”  And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”  But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father.  And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.  Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”   And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!”

Notice in David’s account who got the credit for the victories.  After David recounts the battles he had won against lions and bears, he stops to give credit where credit is due.  God made those victories possible and David used those victories to build his character.  It was David’s faith in God – a faith that had been strengthened through the victories in the pastures – that gave him the courage to step out on the battlefield to face the giant.  God had worked through the peaks on David’s roller coaster life to prepare him for this next victory.  These early victories also helped Dave deal with the valleys that were to come before he ultimately sat on the throne of Israel.

God works in lives this way today as well.  It’s hard to find a more successful young athlete than the Texas Longhorn’s Colt McCoy.  Before Colt joined the Longhorns, he enjoyed a very successful high school career.  While starting for Texas, he had one of the best records of any Texas quarterback.  During Colt’s senior year, he took the Longhorns to the National Championship against Alabama.  Each time the team enjoyed a victory on the field, Colt would give credit to his team, praise the other team for their effort on the field and then he would give the glory to God who he said was in control of his life.  It was a real pleasure to see Colt handle victory in such a humble manner and always remember to give thanks to God.  It would seem that character building was happening in Colt’s life during the peaks.  But never was his character more evident than the night of the National Championship.

Colt was injured early in the game and could not return to the field.  The freshman backup came into the game and played admirably.  In the end the Alabama team was too strong for the hobbled Longhorns to withstand.  We’ll never know how the game would have turned out if Colt had been able to return or avoid the hit entirely.  However, we know a lot about Colt’s character through this big valley experience courtesy the post-game interview.  Take a minute to play the YouTube video to hear how Colt responded to trial, suffering and defeat.

Just like David, Colt responded to the valley just like he responded to the peaks.  That’s what the character building process does for you.  It prepares you to deal well with victory AND defeat.  It may be painful and trying but you will be a better person if you let God shape you through life’s ups and downs.  Be open to being shaped this week as you ride the coaster!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

A Roller Coaster Life for Character A Roller Coaster Life for Dependence A Roller Coaster Life for Dependence


  1. Mike there is another rollercoaster out there ………I am but a bystander……I hope God has been preparing you well.

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