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The Fullness of God is Offered Each Day

19June2012

I’ve been prepping for VBS that will happen in mid-July at our congregation.  The leaders of this year’s event chose Group’s ” Babylon: Daniel’s Courage in Captivity.” (www.group.com) We will have a bible study/training session tonight and delve into the five stories from the book of Daniel that we will present to the children of our village very soon.  You are probably very familiar with all of them: Daniel and the Israelites are exiled to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar; Daniel interprets the king’s dream; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survive the fiery furnace; Daniel risks his life by praying to God; Daniel survives the lion’s den.  All of these stories focus on idolatry, faithfulness and courage in the face of a hostile environment and God’s abiding presence and deliverance.

So, it’s been awhile since I spent any quality time with Daniel.  I have really grown to love him in the past few days.  I have a renewed sense of admiration and respect for his faith and obedience to God.  I have learned (or relearned as the case may be) how difficult it is to live a life of faith in a hostile world but how the fullness of God is constantly and consistently offered to us each and every day no matter what is going on around/within/among us.  I am grateful for Daniel.  I am even more grateful for a God who promises to never leave us!

You see, in every single solitary day in this world that we live in. . . we are in danger.  There is so much bad that happens EVERY day that at any time our lives could be snuffed out, our friends could be afflicted with cancer, our loved ones could lose faith, or we could lose a job or get hurt- seriously hurt.  And then there is the devil.  (Maybe in seminary , if you happened to go there, they indicated that there was no such reality. . . maybe they tried to forget about evil or chalked it up to corporate sin.  Oh, I dunno. . . I kinda think that evil is real.  I tend to think that the greatest distraction that Satan could use is to get us to think that he isn’t real.  Just ask C.S. Lewis who wrote about it extensively in  The Screwtape Letters, M. Scott Peck in People of the Lie.)  We are fortunate each day that we make it through unscathed.  We are given a gift each and every day that nothing catastrophic goes wrong.  I’m not trying to be fatalistic here. . . I’m trying to be realistic.  We live in a dangerous world that is hostile to God, hostile to the saving love of Christ and hostile to the blowing of the Spirit.  Daniel knew about that kind of environment even better than we do.  He lived it and lived it faithfully. . . and God was fully present, fully faithful.

Now I’m not saying that if you are faithful you will receive the kind of promotions that Daniel received or even that you will be rescued from fiery furnaces like the three young friends of Daniel or the fierce lion’s crushing jaws!  What I am saying is that NO MATTER WHAT each and every day God offers to be our rock, our shelter, our fortress, our strong tower, our shield, our father, our savior.  He offers to us the very fullness of his being no matter what is going on in this life!  What else can we do than cling to him?  Of course we can refuse.  We can reject him and swear against him and turn our backs on him and refuse to pray to him and speak poorly about him . . . OR we can cling to him.  In the darkness there is only one source of light that bring us out of the depths of despair.  In our grief there is only one source of comfort for our affliction.  In our pain there is only one source of healing.

Daniel knew it.  Even in the face of certain death his faith never wavered.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew it.  They told the king that even if their God did not save them from a fiery death they would never turn away from him.  This is not about getting our way or bargaining for a better outcome.  It is about letting go and letting God fill in the spaces, letting grace fill in the cracks, letting God’s love fill us up to overflowing EVEN and ESPECIALLY when we are hurting.

There’s a paraphrase of one of the beatitudes that has stuck with me for many years now from The Message by Peterson.  It goes something like this: Blessed are you when you are at the end of your rope, for there is the place where there is less of you and more of God.  As we let go and diminish our egos, our pride, our self-reliance, our anger, our self -pity (all of which are idols by the way!). . . and allow God to fill us with the fullness of him.  What else could we need if we are filled with God’s fullness?  I can’t think of a single thing.  Amen.

ACL@CCD

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