Boldness and Faithfulness (A Devotional Thought Based on Daniel)

For the last several years, I have been really drawn to examples of boldness and courage. You could say that I am drawn to the Katniss Everdeen types (a.k.a. Hunger Games heroine), or to people like Rosa Parks, who stood up for her convictions and caused monumental change to ensue in the famous Southern bus boycotts by African-Americans who were tired of being treated as second-class citizens compared to Caucasians. I am also greatly inspired by the heroes and heroines of the Bible.

Two of my favorite people in the Bible are Joshua and Esther. However, another amazing individual in the Bible who epitomizes boldness and faithfulness to me is Daniel. In Daniel 6, it talks about how King Darius set up 120 satraps to be in charge of his kingdom, and there were three presidents over the satraps. Daniel was one of the 3 presidents (Amplified Bible, Daniel 6:1-2). Daniel was distinguished above the other presidents, and the King thought about setting Daniel in charge of the whole country. As you can imagine, this idea was not liked by the satraps and other presidents. They sought to bring accusations against Daniel, however they could not find fault in Daniel, because he was faithful (v. 3-4). Thus, they knew that the only way to accuse Daniel and have it stick was “concerning the law of his God.” Thus, they set-up King Darius to sign a royal statute that could not be changed, which was according to law of the Medes and Persians. Essentially, the statute that they convinced the King to sign elevated the king to a type of God-like status, where no one could “ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days.” The people could only petition King Darius during this time (v. 5-9).

Daniel was a faithful man who knew that the decree which was signed essentially prohibited him from worshipping his God as he always did. To worship his God meant one thing: death. If he followed his beliefs and his conscience, then he would be cast into a den of lions, as the statute specified. What did Daniel do in this situation? Did he give up his beliefs for thirty days? Did he hide in a closest when he prayed in order to not risk his life? No. Daniel was 100% aware of the consequences of his actions, and he still boldly and openly prayed and gave thanks to God three times a day JUST LIKE HE AWAYS HAD DONE (v. 10).

Daniel’s faith blows me away. He was BOLD. He was DEVOTED. He was FAITHFUL. He was CONSISTENT. He was NOT AFRAID.

So, what happens next? Of course, Daniel’s adversaries find Daniel praying. It was an action worthy of death in their eyes. They run to King Darius, remind him of the irrevocable decree, and point out that Daniel praying is like treason- it disregards the king and the decree. King Darius was distressed, and I imagine at this point he may have realized that this was a set-up to do away with Daniel. The King set his mind to deliver Daniel and even “labored until the sun went down to rescue him” (v. 11- 14). Because the law couldn’t be changed EVEN BY THE KING (which I find interesting, since the King was the one who initially MADE the law), King Darius unhappily commanded Daniel to be cast into the den of lions, but with the hope, “May your God, Whom you are serving continually, deliver you!” (v. 15-16).

Things are looking very grim for Daniel at this point. However, even in the darkest hour, God will shine through. That is a lesson for us all to remember. The next day, the king raced to the lion’s den, hoping that somehow Daniel would be spared by the “living God” who Daniel served continually. Daniel was alive, and he replied that God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that Daniel was unharmed (v. 19-22).

Whenever you are facing a tough time, or when you are tempted to give up on your faith, I hope that you remember about Daniel, and know that God loves you and will protect you in the storms of life.

More Semi-Random Musings from My World (the Avengers)

More Semi-Random Musings from My World:

1. Marvel’s new Avengers movie rocks!!! ! Yeah, I know, deep thoughts from my world.  I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone who has not seen it, but I think that at this point of the weekend, you may be in the minority if you have NOT seen it yet.  I believe that I read on the internet that it had the second best opening weekend EVER.  (And I read that sometime on Saturday).  So yeah, I saw a 10:15 am showing on Friday (my vacation day), which is kind of “crazy”, but it was to accommodate my friends afternoon work schedules (the Avengers is 2 hours 23 minutes long, but I think that previews were like 21 minutes…..so we got out of the movie at around 1 pm, actually).  For longer movies, sometimes I wish there was an intermission, because you hate to get up and miss anything in the movie in order to run to the restroom or get a popcorn refill.  I polished off my kid’s meal popcorn during the previews (it’s small), and the movie theatre that I was at gives free popcorn refills, but I didn’t want to miss the movie, so it was hard to take advantage of that exceedingly cool facet.  Anyways, it was quite fun to be one of the first of American audiences to view The Avengers, unless you were one of the mass of humanity at the midnight showings around the country.

I loved Joss Whedon’s (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) directing of The Avengers.  He directed it with a human side, which I appreciate immensely, and the interpersonal focus on the characters and their interactions was 100% compelling There is an article on Joss and his directing and The Avengers in my new May 2012 issue of Wired magazine.  The article talks about ‘The Whedon Way”, and I completely saw the part about how Whedon’s characters are quite aware of their own weaknesses and strengths, and they are good at voicing them.  Whedon is quoted as saying, “It’s a flaw in my work that is enough of a virtue that I let it slide” and “I make people ridiculously self-aware because I hate deception.” (May 2012 Wired magazine, page  175).

There was such a depth to the characters of The Avengers, and it was interesting to see the nitty-gritty human side that is often left out of action movies, or under-valued and under-developed in favor of explosive special effects and all the bells and whistles.  I found myself appreciating the differences of personality and giftedness of all the characters, and I saw the theme and importance of unity in order to come together and accomplish great things.  “No man (or woman) is an island”, as the old saying goes, and you know what?  It is true.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.  Once the Avengers stopped fighting amongst themselves, then they were able to become a team and achieve the hopes and objectives that Nick Fury has for them.  Also, a human emotional piece in the Avengers that stood out to me was that I saw how Natasha (a.k.a. Black Widow) was somewhat tormented by her past….wanting to erase the “red in her ledger” (as she kept saying at one point of the movie) and obtain a clean slate.  A clean slate is so liberating and so freeing.  Who among us hasn’t desired that at one point of our lives?  I think that is the importance of grace (and, because of my faith beliefs, I think that is the importance of Jesus, redemption, and forgiveness).  This world that we are all a part of is not one that promotes grace, and that old song “What have you done for me lately?” (Jodi Whatley?) rings true in our perfomance-oriented, hurried, and score-card keeping American society.  I can preach to the choir sometimes, and this topic of grace is one that I am still learning, with scraped knees and frustration with myself (and others) along the way.

Also, I need to point out that while I can appreciate characters like Captain America, and his unwavering focus on bravery, rules, and always doing the right thing, and I enjoy Hawkeye’s talent for bow and arrow (he and Katniss Everdeen are single-handedly helping the old school bow and arrow make a comeback), however, I found myself appreciating more the strengths of Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) and seeing a new side of him in this movie.  Honestly, I didn’t see the first Iron Man movie (just the second one), so this may not be a perfect synopsis or character representation, but from what I can tell (and from his own self-awareness, a.k.a Joss Whedon style), he can be brash, cocky, self-absorbed, and brilliant (and he knows it), but he also has many other sides that are beautiful.  He really comes full circle when he realizes the importance of unity and working with others. He has so much to bring to the table: such strength, smarts, a philanthropy spirit….and in the end he is noble and brave and willing to sacrifice for a cause he cares about.  Quite beautiful, indeed.

Well, I had a few others things that I have pondered lately, but I am actually going to leave this post just with my personal thoughts on the Avengers.  I think that anything else would lesson what I feel led to say, and my other ponderings may just be future posts for another time, or my own introspective musings and self-awareness.