I was reading the story again, the one about Daniel refusing to cease his daily prayers, when facing the great, impending risk of being cast into a den of starving lions. I have always read this story as though it were a story of the power of a God who could shut the mouths of lions. But this time, I saw something new. I saw it not only as a story of God’s might, but of His worth.
Daniel, simple sweet Daniel, who had made a long-standing habit of obedience, found himself facing the fear of death or the fear of disobedience, and he, like many of our brothers and sisters around the globe who now face imprisonment, torture and death, chose obedience. His reverence for God far outweighed his fear of death.
(You can find this story in chapter 6 of the book of Daniel).
Daniel, against the king’s unchangeable edict, was forced to the decision to continue his ritual of praying 3 times a day, at his window. He did not hide, or cower, and his peace didn’t falter. He knelt down in prayer. “Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and GIVING THANKS before his God, as he had been doing previously.” (Dan. 3:10)
He knelt… at an open window… three times a day. And he gave thanks! Hallelujah!
This was not his first go at this. Obedience is learnt and practiced in much lesser circumstances. It was learned when he refused King Nebuchadnezzar’s choice foods, knowing that eating them would mean breaking Jewish law. So he chose vegetables and water, so as not to risk disobedience to the laws of his God. It was learned in the small, unrecorded decisions of his life, when he chose God’s ways, in the face of mockery and aversion from his countrymen. It was learned in times of peace.
So, when the time came to place his neck in a noose. He chose obedience.
This story doesn’t land there, on a wise and righteous young man. This is a story about a God worth knowing, worth adoring. Daniel chose to stand beside his Best Friend, when earth held treasures for him and when earth offered him death. Because Daniel knew something that I am learning daily… that God is worth it all!
Daniel chose obedience, because Daniel chose the everlasting Life above the temporal. And through the ancient, rustling pages of Scripture, we can learn it too. “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; II will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:3-4)