Tag Archives: Daniel 9

An Ear and a Prayer

Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.
Daniel 9:18 (NIV)

Yesterday morning the nurse walked me into the exam room of the dermatological surgeon. As I sat down on the bed she turned, smiled at me, and asked, “Is this your first time with skin cancer?”

I told her that it was.

“Welcome to the club!” she said, cheerfully. With that, she launched into her work.

Thanks. I guess.

I successfully had a small patch of cancer cells removed from the top third of my right ear (Don’t forget to rub sunscreen on your ears, too!). Other than looking like I’m performing the role of Vincent Van Gogh for the next few weeks along with some minor discomfort, I’m doing fine.

I will admit, that the experience has me thinking about my age. I’m not doing to the “pity me, I’m getting old” kind of thing. I’ve simply been meditating on the fact that I’m entering a new season of the journey. Things change. The body starts requiring different kinds of maintenance and attention. It is what it is.

Perhaps that is why I got to thinking about Daniel’s age as I read today’s chapter. In all the times I’ve read through the book of Daniel, I’ve never really thought much about the timeline or Daniel’s age as he wrote about his dreams and visions. Given the reference to Darius the Mede at the top of the chapter, David has been living in exile in Babylon for roughly 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). What prompted his journaled prayer in today’s chapter was the realization that seventy years was how long Jeremiah had prophesied the Babylonian kingdom would last. He was there.

What struck me is that in casual reading I wouldn’t differentiate between the Daniel praying in this chapter with the young man who was praying and keeping the faith back in the first chapter. He has not forgotten who he is, where he came from, or the God whom he has served with fidelity while living an entire lifetime as a captive exile living in the capital city of his enemies. He has been living faith-fully for a lifetime as a stranger in a strange land.

In the quiet this morning I find myself reflecting on my own earthly journey. In about a year and a half, I will mark 40 years since I said a prayer and made my decision to follow Jesus. Despite feeling my age I’m still short of the tenure of Daniel’s sojourn by quite a ways, to be sure. And, my journey has been much easier than his.

A good reality check and an inspiring reminder to start my day…with a sore ear.

Press on, my friend. Have a great day.

 

Strength in Humility

Daniel Sistine ChapelSo 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.

Chapter-a-Day Daniel 9

Looking back. Looking foward.  "Darius, son of Ahasuerus, born a Mede, became king over the land of Babylon." Daniel 9:1 (MSG)

This is the week that 2009 winds down and we look in earnest at the coming year. It is the week we'll hear every television and radio station giving their list of the Top 10 this or that from the previous year. My wife and I have already noticed the increase in quit smoking pharmaceutical commercials on television as the drug companies try to capitalize on those new year's resolutions.

On the eve of a new year it's natural to look back and to look forward. The past year was a difficult year in many respects and I don't know what 2010 will hold. Yet, I'm reading through the book of Daniel and thinking about the mega-shifts that Daniel experienced in his life. He was torn away from his family and home as a young man and taken captive to a foreign land. He rose to prominence under the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, then survived brief reigns by Nebuchadnezzar's offspring. In today's chapter, the Medo-Persian king Darius has taken power. Nevertheless, Daniel remains secure in his position.

Daniel's life was spent focused on serving God and being obedient. As a result, he remained secure in tumultuous times. While all around him there were tremendous shifts in power and government, Daniel seems to have stood in the eye of the storm.

As I look forward to 2010, I take that image of Daniel standing in the eye of life's storms. No matter what the coming year(s) hold, my responsibility is to remain focused on being obedient and content.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and comedynose