Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Will You Give Them A Stand?

Have you ever experienced the amazement of learning something new about an old friend?

A tidbit of backstory, a life-long dream or achievement you'd never known before. It's a wondrous surprise when we look at someone we know well and find there are yet mysterious layers to their soul we've never seen.

Recently, I experienced this with a very old friend. Though my friend and I are separated by thousands of years and separate cultures, I've known him all my life. He is a humble man, yet is known the world over. His childhood was ordinary, yet marked with divine design. His latter days quiet, yet famous. But in every season of life, the simple tenacity of his faith is a monument to the power of God and a pattern to millions. His name, is Daniel.

Daniel; surely you remember him now. The lad who bargained for simple, kosher food instead of the unclean, government mandated fare with an official in the most powerful empire at the time. The youth gifted as an interpreter of visions and who deciphered the literal handwriting on the wall spelling doom for the Babylonian kingdom. The elderly man who was beloved by heaven for the effectiveness of his prayers. Maybe he is your friend too; a friend who is also a role model of holding fast to God when surrounded by a pagan culture.

But what I didn't know was how Daniel's faith was nurtured. Did our role model ever have his own model of what it meant to stand alone in obedience to God while most of his countrymen bowed low in obedience to men?

It highly possible he did. While young Daniel was memorizing his Hebraic alphabet, another man was calling the people of Judah to repentance. Like Daniel, Jeremiah was given his prophetic ministry at a young age. And if 600 B.C. Jewish success standards were anything like those held by mainstream Christianity today, Jeremiah was a dismal failure. His bold proclamation of God's word rewarded Jeremiah with no converts, imprisonment and winner of the least popular preacher of the decade medal. Yet Jeremiah stood fast for his God – and nearly always alone.

Yet, it appears one boy was watching. For the ministry of Jeremiah and childhood of Daniel overlap. Jeremiah 26 records a sermon Jeremiah preached at the Feast of Tabernacles – an event all Jewish men were required to attend. Daniel would have been roughly thirteen years old. In the likelihood he was at Jerusalem with his father, Daniel may have witnessed the crowd rise in rage and condemn the faithful prophet to death in the very temple of the Lord they came to worship. Can you imagine the spike in Daniel's pulse rate as he waited to see if God's man would apologize or soften the truth just a little? Yet, even a murderous mob could not cause Jeremiah to recant his message. Whether Daniel ever met Jeremiah in person or not, it's almost certain this boy was influenced by the famous preacher's ministry. Did Jeremiah's voice echoed in Daniel's mind every time he chose to obey God rather than man? Could Jeremiah himself foreseen his influence on a lad who would become a mighty ruler in the very kingdom he prophesied about?

Friend, we don't always know who is watching. But we can know they are never watching more intently than when we stand alone. Our stand of obedience to God – in the great and small – is a gift we can bequeath to a new generation long after we are gone. Will you give the Daniel in your life a stand?

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