But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. (Daniel 6:10)
Relate: Way back in my early childhood, on more than a couple occasions, I saw a series of movies that quite literally put the fear of God in me. Even though they were already “old” by the time I was old enough to see them they were ridiculously scary. To be honest, I probably wasn’t actually old enough that first time or two around, but no matter. The four movies I am talking about are “A Thief In The Night”, “A Distant Thunder”, “Image Of The Beast”, and “Prodigal Planet”. As you might guess from the titles, they were a four part series of one particular eschatological view that includes the rapture and seven year tribulation.
I remember talking about these movies and the events they portrayed with some other guys that went to my church in my upper elementary years. One of those other guys, David, folded his arms and boldly proclaimed, “No way I’m ever gonna take the mark.” Of course, with all my Christian pride I responded, “Well, I’m not gonna have to worry about it. I will already be gone.”
Now you have to understand something about David. He was a regular church attender, but he was also proud in his preteen way of the fact that he didn’t really go in for all that church stuff. it is great for when he gets older but for now there is too much fun to be had. He had no problem letting anybody know this “fact” without hesitation. An older adult who happened to be present for our conversation called him out on this. “If you aren’t willing to live for God now when it’s easy,” she asked, “What makes you think you will be able to take a stand for Him when your life is on the line?” David answered with all the childish bluster one might expect: “Oh, I know. Ain’t nobody gonna get me to take the mark.”
React: It is easy to call David’s response, “childish bluster”, but how often am I saying or thinking the same thing myself. My current apartment is a mess, but when I move into the new one I will do a much better job of keeping it clean. I was terrible at doing homework in high school, but once I went to college where I could study what I wanted, I would be far more diligent. How many men who struggle with pornography when single believe that once they tie the knot they will be able to stop? How many times do we all look to a future time or happening for that moment when we will begin to do better? We will be glad to start tithing as soon as that promotion comes our way. “As soon as I ______, then I will ______” is a big lie that we tell ourselves so that we can remain comfortable in our mediocrity.
Daniel did not start praying once they made a law against it. He didn’t begin to take a stand only when a stand was required of him. If he tried to start then he would have failed. No, Daniel had already made his stand. When push came to shove it was easy for him to hold his ground. He had been holding it every day, three times a day, as faithful as God had called him to be. If I cannot serve God with the current beating of my heart and intake of my breath then no future change of rhythm or shifting of winds will ever be beneficial to me. I need to be faithful now so that when faithfulness is demanded, I can say, “Just like always, I will stand.”
God, right here, right now, I commit again to following after You with all my heart and mind and strength. I don’t want to look for some future event to become who You are calling me to be. I want to live right now by the standards I know that with Your strength I can live. The better me doesn’t start at some future moment. The better me began when Your blood washed me sins away. Help me to live now in a way that will make standing strong remains easy when the pushes and shoves start to build.