From Garden to City reading: Daniel 6
Remember that show, Everybody Loves Raymond?
His mother loved him so much that it basically didn't matter what inane thing he did, she blamed his brother, his father, his wife. Great show on dysfunctional family dynamics.
More than once people have compared Duane to Raymond. Maybe it's his dry sense of humor, or maybe it's his deep voice. I think Duane's way better looking than Ray Romano, and I don't think Duane's wife is as neurotic as Debra.
Lately I compare Duane to Raymond because basically everybody seems to love him. Except the people who don't. But they shall remain unnamed. And this time it's not because of a crazy-mixed up mother.
It wasn't always like that. For at least twenty-five years, all our friends were my friends. And most people knew me, but didn't even know Duane and I were married. And then all of a sudden, Duane came alive. He moved with integrity and served with humility. Where he was once invisible, now everybody know hims. He goes into Lowes or the post office or Starbucks and makes friends. People offer him discounts and free mailbox keys. He remembers their names. He calls them. He prays for them. He checks in with them.
And I joke, "Everybody loves Duane." (Maybe I am the neurotic wife.)
But I digress.
Sometimes God gives people favor. I think that's what is happening with Duane.
And that's the only explanation I can give with Daniel. He serves three kings, and they all love him. It causes him some problems, too.
After Belshazzar is assassinated, the new king, Darius, loves Daniel so much that the other advisers become jealous and concoct a plan to get rid of him. They know Daniel prays, and so they make prayer illegal for thirty days, punishable by death. Now Daniel prays even more intensely. In fact, he holes himself up in his room and gives thanks to God.
And sure enough, the advisers go to Daniel's room, find him praying, and arrest him. King Darius must obey his own law, and Daniel goes into the den with the lions.
I wonder what's going on in Daniel's head. It's not like he and his friends haven't been in worse situations before. Is he confident? Scared? Hopeful, but not sure?
The Lord God delivers Daniel from the lions, and King Darius praises God.
And Daniel prospers during the reign of Darius and also during the reign of Cyrus.
Yes, everybody loves Daniel.
But it isn't as much about Daniel as it is about God's plans for Daniel. And Daniel's willingness to go along with God's plans. He takes risks for God because he knows God. He knows God's greatness. He knows God's power. And he looks to God constantly. He seeks him continuously. He obeys him gratefully.
God's plans for each of us is different.
God delivers Daniel.
But John the Baptist gets his head chopped off.
But Stephen in Acts 7 gets stoned.
All of them serve God.
And in every situation, God's is glorified.
Dare to be a Daniel.
Dare to be a John the Baptist.
Dare to be a Stephen.