My Own Lion's Den...

Often times when reading my Bible, whether just for my personal quiet time or preparing a lesson, I catch myself thinking "I want to be a man like ______" (insert whoever I'm reading about that day). Now, I think there's a lot to be said for admiring and respecting the men of the Bible (and the women of course), but this week I came to a new realization about the way I should think about that admiration and respect... Stick with me here.

I was reading about Daniel last week to prepare for a Youth Group lesson. The lesson was on Daniel 6, when Daniel finds himself in the lions' den. However, this lesson wasn't about what happened when Daniel had been thrown into the lions' den.. no this lesson was about the scriptures describing what was leading up to the moment when Daniel was cast into the lions' den. (I promise, I'll stop saying lions' den now). Here's the background, and I'm going to do some slight paraphrasing for the sake of time and words... After King Belshazzar's death (which was brought upon himself by worshiping wood/gold/etc.) King Darius rose to power. Now, King Darius appointed 120 satraps/provinces, which were essentially governors to oversee the kingdom. Above these 120 men were three administrators, one of whom was Daniel. Now, to put it in simple terms, everyone knew Daniel was the man. It was intended by King Darius that Daniel would be over the whole kingdom. When the other 122 men found this out, they were overjoyed ... just kidding, they were envious. So they set him up, they knew Daniel was a man of integrity and character and could be found in no fault of breaking the law, so they convinced King Darius to pass a decree. The decree stated that anyone who worshiped or prayed to anything/anyone other than Darius in the next 30 days should be thrown into the... well, the place I said I wouldn't mention anymore. What does Daniel do when he hears the decree?? Not only does he pray three times a day, he does it in front of his windows that face the city, knowing that people will see him.

I'm in awe. I mean I've heard the story of Daniel before, but never given much thought about the part that isn't completely taught in Sunday School. The part before God saved his life from those ferocious beasts. The part where Daniel showed his integrity, character, and courage in a very brave and brazen way. I mean, you want to talk about displaying your faith, love, and reverence of God in a way that is unabashed! Now, I'm sitting there reading all of this, studying it and soaking it in, when I begin to cry out "Lord, I want to be Daniel, I want to put my life on the line to publicly praise and worship you!" I started to compare myself to Daniel, I started to become envious of Daniel... and I realized in that moment I wasn't like Daniel, I was like the satraps. I was envious of who God had called him to be. I wasn't thankful for the person God has created me to be because I was convincing myself that being a modern day Daniel would be better than who I am! It was in that moment that God whispered to me, in the quiet and still of my empty house, as I sat at the kitchen table "I created you in my image, I have called you to do my work in a way that is different from all others, be confident, be courageous, be comfortable with who you are... don't strive to be Daniel, just be Brad"...

Here's the thing-- I know that God's Word is truth. I think God intended for us to learn from the men and women of the Bible, but I also believe God calls us to be ourselves. I forget that sometimes, and I find myself comparing who I am to who these men in the Bible were... the problem with that, is that in those moments my own self-image is already low. It's no secret that I struggle with self-confidence and self-worth. I have for many years, and when I compare myself to men like Daniel, satan tries to use that against me. Yet, as satan tries to destroy me... God closes the mouths of the lions', or in this case silences the negatives thoughts I have about myself, and raises me up out of their den. He reminds me that He has created me in His image, that I am His son, His servant, His ambassador. This last week, as this has been resonating inside of me God has spoken some truth into my life about who I am, and while I am in no way perfect, no way completely done growing or learning, I am reassured that I am becoming who God has created me to be.

Thanks to conversations with new friends, I have re-learned lessons that God taught me years ago about being comfortable with myself. I realized that while admiring and respecting men like Daniel, Abraham, Paul, and many others from the Bible, I need not be envious of who God called them to be. Because I have my own unique qualities, I have the ability to change the world. One moment at a time. I decided this week that I'm going to stop trying to please other people, and focus on pleasing God by just being who God is calling me to be, no matter where that takes me. I want to live the story God has written for me specifically, in the most whimsical way I can (Go read Love Does by Bob Goff... as soon as you finish this blog). I want to be a guy who makes moments for others, for himself, and for the Kingdom (then go read Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker). I just want to live a good story, I want to learn each lesson, and I want to love the way God has called me too. And when I start to stray from this, I hope someone sends me a link to my own blog. Because I may not be the smartest of me, but I know sometimes God uses moments in the present as precursors for lessons I need to learn, and re-learn, in the future.

Grace and Peace,