So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3 (NIV)
Daniel was a spiritual rock star. He was humble, faithful, disciplined, and righteous. Most of the great, ancient heroes of the faith have their obvious flaws, but I don’t see that with Daniel. The dude seems never to have made a wrong move. It is said that whatever fire does not destroy it purifies, and Daniel had more than his fair share of suffering. Perhaps he was refined by the fires of life’s suffering at an early age and the lessons carried him through a lifetime.
As I read Daniel’s prayer of confession this morning, it struck me once again that there is a connection between confession and strength that seems almost counter intuitive. Here we have Daniel, who by all accounts was a righteous man, covering himself in sackcloth and ashes (an ancient practice, the scratchy clothing and ashes were a word picture of a person’s humility and unworthiness before God). It doesn’t diminish him in my mind. It strengthens my perception of him.
What a contrast to the culture we live in. We value arrogance, bravado, and braggadocio (My mind conjures up images of Donald Trump, Kanye West, Richard Sherman, the Kardashians, et al). The powerful and famous hire PR firms, invest in their personal brand, and eagerly hide their flaws. When the skeletons come out of the closet, they fly the banner of “all publicity is good publicity” and ride out the storm until it’s the right time to make a comeback. We love comeback stories.
This morning I’m once again pondering what kind of person I want to be. I have made a tremendous number of big mistakes in my personal journey, and I continue to make my share on a regular basis. Pretending that I haven’t seems like a lot of on-going PR work, and it feels more than a little smarmy. I think I’ll try to stick with Daniel’s example. It is said that confession is good for the soul, and along the way I have found it to be true on many different levels. The more honest I am about my own flawed humanity, the more deeply I’ve come to understand and appreciate God’s mercy and grace.