Girls, I cannot believe we have been studying Daniel for ten weeks. Ten weeks! We've nearly made it though an entire trimester. That exciting, nerve wracking first trimester. I had no idea when I signed up for this safari that I would be changed so much by it. No idea. Can I be honest for a second? When my friend Robin suggested this study and I looked at it, I really didn't want to do it. I had no interest whatsoever in studying Daniel, and frankly at the point I was at ten weeks ago, I was hoping for something that would speak to me. To change me. And, sorry, Amber, I didn't think this was it. I couldn't see how God could use a book like Daniel to do anything other than make me a smidge smarter in the theological world of prophecy and visions and 7's.
Wow. Did God have some surprises in store for me. From the very first week I've been humbled, convicted, and changed. Marvelously changed. This has been the best study I've ever done. I'm not just saying pretty words. I'm being truthful when I say that God has used this to get me to open my eyes and see -- really see -- my life and my world and what needed changing.
I am venturing off path a bit this week, only because when I read chapter 10 this week, I was struck by a few things over and over. I tried to keep bringing my thoughts back to the suggestions in Amber's study guide, but I finally gave in and realized the Holy Spirit was leading me in another direction. So here goes my tangent...
Daniel 10:10 (ESV): "O Daniel, man greatly loved..."
How I want to be addressed one day as "O Jennifer, woman greatly loved!" I am nowhere near the state of righteousness that Daniel was. When I look at his life and his testimony, I am humbled and ashamed that I am not even in the Daniel league. But I am reminded that I am still a work in progress. I have a long way to go, and I'm already 44. I hope that I can at least get somewhere within a gazillion miles of the Daniel ballpark before I die.
Daniel 10:12 (ESV): "...from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before you God, your words have been heard."
I needed to hear this. This very week. I pretty much read this verse and sort of landed on it. Just parked my jeep right there and built a fire. From the first day, his words were heard. God isn't silent. He isn't too busy listening to the words of those that are more righteous, more important, or just flat out better than me. From the first day....
Ahh, yes, but there is a disclaimer: from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before God. So I cannot just pray. I cannot just cry. I cannot just journal. I have to set my heart to understand and humble myself --- which led me on several day trips to Proverbs and some sightseeing over in the neighboring land of Psalms. The verses I read and clung to and wrote down and underlined and prayed were too many to list here. But the picture that I come away with on this leg of the journey is a beautiful landscape view of God the Almighty, hearing me. Hearing my words. He. Has. Heard.
So....why is it taking so long to hear back? I mean, I am in some serious need of a callback here. A voice mail. A text. Anything, God. And then I read...
Daniel 10:13 (ESV): "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me 21 days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there..."
2 stinkin' ugly words: Spiritual warfare. The messenger that is speaking to Daniel tells him that he got there as fast as he could. He was caught up in a war that we cannot see. A war that rages around us in the spiritual realm. He was sent to give Daniel a message, but he was just a wee bit busy. Fighting a
I mean....what do I even say to that? Here I am, waiting, strumming my fingers and pacing back and forth...and all around me there is some serious
crap stuff going down. And all I seem to think of is me and my family of 5. Pretty selfish, huh? I'm here screaming "C'mon, GOD, where the heck are you? Do you hate us? Why are you silent?" --- and the whole time, He is saying, "Oh, but if you only knew...."
I have a lot of notes jotted down in my Bible. Several years ago, Chuck Lawless came to our church to lead us in his study of spiritual warfare. I have at least an entire page of notes in my Bible from that study alone. A few of my favorites:
- Our trials become the hammers and chisels that carve our character.
- God does not deliver us from trials but through them.
- Warfare is for a season.
- From satan's perspective, the only hope of victory for him is for us to cave in to discouagement and lose faith.
- Jesus is the model for overcoming the enemy: know the truth, trust the truth, memorize the truth, love the truth.
This chapter was rich for me. Copiously rich in encouragement, in instruction, and in reminders. I am almost afraid to look ahead to chapter 11! I can't imagine what else God has in store for us this next week. I know one thing.....
It'll be good.