The fall of Judah
The story of Daniel is one of those great parts of Scripture that clearly and repeatedly reminds us that we are never far from God. So much of the story is so familiar that I have a tendency to blow right by some of its truths when reading it. For example, the first 7 verses in the book tell the well-known story of the fall of Judah to the Babylonians and the king’s enslavement of young Israelite men, including Daniel and his friends.
I often just see these verses as the setup for the rest of the story, but in reading them recently, I spent some time thinking about what those days must have been like for Daniel. His whole world changed in a spasm of violence and he was taken away from everything that he knew and was thrust into a foreign land to learn a new language, read new literature, eat new foods and serve a new king. He had a great faith in God’s provision (as we see many times later in the story), but those early days had to be strange and frightening to him, particularly as young as he was. And yet, despite this disruption, it is obvious from what comes next that Daniel was right where God wanted him to be and, maybe just as importantly, Daniel knew that and lived his young life accordingly.
In my own middle-aged life, I find that I am often overly dependent on the familiar patterns of each day and it takes very little (a stalled car in the lane in front of me, a missed phone call, someone eating the rest of my ice cream) to throw me off kilter. When God makes me stop and think about that, it seems silly in light of so many more serious issues that so many of us face, but an unexpected change in circumstance can really upset my apple cart.
I wonder if my faith would be as strong as Daniel’s if I had to experience the kinds of change he faced. That’s why I’ve claimed Romans 5:3-5 as my life verse and am constantly asking God to help me “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance produces character and character produces a hope that does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. (My translation) My hope for all of us as fathers is that we will face whatever changes are coming in our circumstances with the same faithfulness and boldness as Daniel did.
Prepare your children
We don’t know much from Scripture about Daniel’s upbringing and whether or not his father was abiding in his life, but when I read the early verses of Daniel 1, I think of my own sons and granddaughter. Have I done all I can to prepare them for the changes that are coming ever faster in this crazy world we live in? Even though my sons are grown, my responsibility as a dad has not ended. I need to keep pouring into their lives and trusting the familiar words of Proverbs 22:6-“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV).
I am so thankful for the ministry of Abiding Fathers and the impact it has on fathers and grandfathers all over this great country of ours. I challenge each of you, in the same way that this ministry challenges me, to go and ‘be the dad that God has called you to be’, no matter the circumstances.