“I have come in response to your words.”

So yeah, about my absence from blogging. Several factors, some physical issues, and a general state of mental and emotional frozenness, contributed to this weeks-long lapse in writing.  I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not beating myself up over it. Did fears get the best of me? Perhaps part of the time, but mostly, the resistance came in other forms, such as fatigue, apathy, confusion, denial, etc.  I was afraid (oops!) this might happen eventually, but now that it has, I realize that it’s not so difficult to click on “add new post,” and jump back on this horse. I’m ready to ride again after that little tumble.

After spending some time in Joshua (one of my favorite OT characters), now I’d like to consider a few verses in Daniel, another favorite Bible hero.  Remember the children’s Sunday School song, “Dare to be a Daniel”?  He stood out as a young man who was willing to be different, to challenge the status quo, to do life God’s way, regardless of the consequences.  For now I’ll skip over the parts about the lions’ den, his interpretations of the king’s dreams, etc. and go to the verse that specifically says, “Do not be afraid, Daniel.” This is found in chapter 10, entitled Daniel’s Vision of a Man. There is much in this book that confuses me. Have all these prophecies and visions already been fulfilled or do they portray events still to come?  Many people believe that these passages refer to the end times, but I prefer to uncover some of the practical principles for daily living, here and now.

So back to the immediate context of this verse. Daniel had received a vision about a great war which had upset him so much that he mourned for three weeks while fasting from rich food, meat and wine. (Daniel 10:1-3) A man presented himself to Daniel (read about his striking appearance in verses 5-6) and Daniel became helpless, pale, and without strength.  Trembling, Daniel listens to the man speak, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”

It’s comforting to me that Daniel was this human, human enough to mourn, to feel helpless and weak. He was a hero, but he wasn’t perfect.  He fell to the ground and trembled as any normal man would.  But his response is what sets him apart. He deprives himself of personal pleasures while mourning about the first vision’s message (makes me ask myself what I’m willing to give up during Lent this year – which begins tomorrow!).  The words from this messenger of God reveal more about Daniel’s character.  He “set [his] mind to gain understanding and to humble [himself] before [his] God.”

The word “set” shows determination, perseverance, goal-setting. He made up his mind to learn, to understand, to be open to what God revealed.  And coupled with that mind-set, Daniel humbled himself before God.  Is this what it means to “dare to be a Daniel”?  Not bravado, nor unflinching strength. The challenge is clear. To be like Daniel, I must determine to gain understanding and do everything in humility.  The result for Daniel was that his “words were heard” and the messenger was sent in response. The Amplified Bible says, “I have come as a consequence of [and in response to] your words.”  (10:12)

Dear God, Help me to set my mind and heart to understand and to humble myself before You.  As a consequence, respond to my words with more messages from You.

“Do not be terrified….” Joshua 1:9

For the third time within four verses, God says to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua knew what was up ahead. He’d seen the giants, knew about the land’s inhabitants, and realized what was at stake. He was bringing a rag-tag crew of desert wanderers into a situation that was no match for them.  He must have thought about how and when and with what and all the possibilites in this humanly impossible scenario.  How in the world……?

His only hope was to cling to these words from God and acknowledge His presence.  For as many times as He says, “Be strong and courageous,”  God also says, “I will be with you.” (see v. 5 as well)  The strength and courage doesn’t have to come from within ourselves, because God is with us. Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.”  Joshua succeeded because he walked in God’s strength, not in his own.

The walls of Jericho didn’t fall down because of Joshua’s or the Israelites’ strength. They did what God told them to do – they walked, they blew horns, they gave a shout. all according to God’s instructions.  Joshua 6:16 “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!”  It may have seemed like a strange way to conquer a city, but God’s ways are not ours.  He chooses to use our obedience and praise to accomplish His will.

For 6 days, the people walked in silence while the priests sounded the trumpets. As I read “while the trumpets kept sounding,” I wondered, what music did they play?  Was it an inspiring march, or annoying blasts,  or plaintive, eerie sounds?  Or was it worshipful music, full of praise to the Lord for bringing them this far?

What “Jericho” is God asking you to walk around, and around, and around?  Are you walking in obedience, patience, persistence, all the while listening to “the trumpets sounding” ?  We probably all have walls that keep us from our promised lands, walls that seem impossible to penetrate on our own.  What I’m going to take with me from these verses is the courage to keep walking, to keep praying and to keep on praising.  Don’t be terrified; don’t be discouraged.  Joshua 6:21 says, “They devoted the city to the Lord.”   It’s His battle. He is with us wherever we go, and if we fight it His way, the victory is ours!