I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
Day three of looking for things to be thankful about, focusing on my gratitude list and this scripture pops up. Pretty sure you all know how I feel about my ancestors, even my thoughts on my own power, and getting what I ask for, so what does this have to offer me today? In truth, I considered skipping this one and looking for something that felt more like me, something that didn’t push so many buttons. What could this bit of the bible speak that I might need or want to hear? As I looked at who Daniel was, how he came to be with the king in the first place, it only got worse. “Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.” Daniel 1:3-4. Okay, so the guy was rich, attractive, educated. He had everything going for him. Ugh. Nothing for me here, folks.
On a morning when I feel old, decrepit, broken down, how can I relate to God using this young man to further the Kingdom? Aside from him refusing the royal food and sticking to vegetables, which I completely approve of, I can’t find much in common with this guy who is supposed to inspire me to praise God. I like my teachers to be a bit dinged up, scuffed around the edges, showing some signs of having lived, those are the folks that I can relate to, let my guard down with, show my soul to. The bible is full of those people, I gain confidence from their trials and their triumphs. But Daniel, seriously? Anyone can praise God when you have it all. Then I recalled my friend challenging some thinking lately, reminding me that even the affluent need Jesus, that even those who are middle class and not struggling to get food on the table have concerns that the church can address. It was startling to realize how judgmental I had become, how I had forgotten that even the pretty had problems, the wealthy were weakened by worries, the highly educated hide hurts as well. The church absolutely needs to feed the poor, tend the widow, visit the prisoner. We must expand our understanding to include more though, to remember that the poor can be not determined solely on finances, as evidenced by the teachings of the Beatitudes. When the church ministers to those who need differently, we create more who are able to serve the Kingdom, the real King. A Daniel, for example. Maybe there is something for me here today after all.
I am praising God for bringing into my life friends who shine light into my blindspots, who open my heart to the ways in which I have built walls to enclose others and who bring me further and further onto the path that God desires for me. I have friends who do have the wisdom and discernment of Daniel, who have the desire to follow the one real King. I am blessed.