5 minutes reading time (999 words)

You are the Way


Life lessons come in so many ways, especially for the young. Whether I could help or not, I went everywhere with my Dad. We had come home from church and had lunch that Mom had left cooking earlier in the day. Seems like an odd concept now, but we never went out for lunch on a Sunday. There was no place to go, and we grew a lot of the food that we ate. Lunch was a little rushed on this particular Sunday. It was spring time and the heart's fancy of a young bull had turned towards our neighbor's heifers. We were no longer hearing him. He had found a weak spot in the fence and he was gone.

I think I was six or seven when these events occurred. There are a couple of time markers for the happenings of this event. I got my first pony at eight and that is about the same time that Dad got a horse. We set out on foot, which we would not have done once we had the horses. I'm confident that my grandparents had not moved next door, where my parents could help take care of them.

We opened the gap in the fence to allow an opening for the bull to come home. I walked by my dad through the large open area that adjoined our property, then through a thicket of cedar trees that were growing in between an area where there was little soil atop the limestone rock formations. We had come out into an area that was covered with brown sage grass that came nearly shoulder high on me. Dad spotted the neighbor's cows, told me to wait, and headed off towards the cows. After a few minutes that seemed much longer, I was in tears. I could not see my Dad. I didn't know how to get home, this wasn't our farm that I knew so well. After a while of not seeing my Dad, and crying, I suddenly knew he must be near. I knew that bull didn't just happen to go running past me. Soon after, my Dad swept by, I was swung to his shoulders, and all was once again right with the world.

This incident came to mind as I reflected on the stories in the book of Daniel. This book brings back fond memories of Vacation Bible School and stories adapted for children. Daniel and his friends taken into captivity, but standing up and wanting to honor their God and eat their veggies. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace, but God protecting them and bringing them out unscathed, not even the smell of smoke. The story of God's hand appearing and writing on the wall during Belshazzar's banquet, and Daniel being the only one who could interpret it. And, of course, Daniel in the lion's den, where Daniel's Father, our Father, shut the mouths of the lions and protected Daniel.

But, wait! Children's stories? The Israelites were taken into captivity, into slavery, because of wanton disregard of God's will. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the furnace for failing to fall on their knees to honor the golden image that King Nebuchanezzar had set up. Yes, God comes to their rescue, but the men that were throwing them into the furnace that was heated seven times hotter than normal were killed by the heat. "Mene Mene Tekel Parsin," the handwriting on the wall:

26 … MENE, God has numbered[g] the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL, you have been weighed[h] in the balances and found wanting; 28 PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians…. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. (Daniel 5:26-28,30 ESV).

Then the Lion's den. Daniel was saved by God. Those that plotted against him were then fed to the lions. While Daniel's faith shines throughout, the gory details and the driving forces are far from stories for children.

Man's pride has repeatedly raised its head. Let's eat the fruit, we will become as God. The prophets have warned the Israelites repeatedly to turn from their pride, to rely on God, to trust in God's word. But this is not a foible that can just be attributed to Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar

30said, "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?" … 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws. (Daniel 4:30,33 ESV)

And Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, before interpreting the handwriting on the wall:

22 And you his son,[f] Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. (Daniel 5:22-23 ESV)

Man's pride allowed the Israelites to think that they knew better than the creator of all what was best for his creation.

14 but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14 ESV)

Psalm 61 was tucked into the readings for this week. Consider this prayer from Psalm 61:1-4 (ESV):

61 Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
2 from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
3 for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

Father, Forgive my pride. Carry me on your shoulders for you know the way, you are the way. Amen. 
Kingdoms Come (And Go)
God Has a Plan


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Wednesday, 01 December 2021

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