Sunday’s sermon was about Daniel and I can’t stop thinking about him.
You know the story. King Darius has been tricked into making a law that would hand down a death sentence to any man or woman who prays to anyone or anything other than the King. Daniel hears the news. His response is simple.
He goes upstairs, opens the window towards Jerusalem and prays like he has done three times a day, every day of his life.
What an understated moment in Bible history!
Daniel is faced with a horrible execution of unthinkable violence and he just does what he always does. It sounds so unspectacular, so uneventful.
But it really isn’t.
It is a glimpse into the secret life of a man of God, just before he receives his deliverance. We are made privy to the backstory, to the secrets behind the miracle so when the miracle comes we understand.
My youngest is learning to drive. He will be safe on the road when the mechanics of driving a car are automatic to him so that he can handle unexpected situations without having to think too much.
And so it is with me.
The enemy of my soul dreads the day prayer becomes my automatic response to difficulty.
He knows there is a place of victory available to me when God’s presence and His Word become non-negotiables. He knows that when I no longer believe the lie that discipline is legalism, I am on the way to a powerful, overcoming life.
And it can start today.
When I feel too busy, I can pray. When life is good and I have nothing to worry about I can pray. When I don’t feel like it, I can open my Bible. I can slowly, daily wear out the carpet that leads to my prayer spot. I can keep going until prayer is like breathing and God’s Word has become the place I go for my answers, without exception.
You see, disciplines are slowly grown. There are no shortcuts or microwaved entrees when it comes to habits and character. Eugene Peterson calls it a ‘long obedience in the same direction’. What a beautiful description of following Jesus every minute of every day.
Because most of the time following Jesus looks somewhat ordinary. It isn’t, of course, but its miraculousness can be hidden within our daily grind. We get up, meet with Him, worship and commune with Him and then we cook or type or iron or change diapers or draw buildings or run companies. And we do the same thing the next day and the next.
When small problems and troubles show up, we remind ourselves to do what we always do. When disappointment arrives, or fear or betrayal, we just do what we always do. If something happens that we don’t understand, nothing changes.
We climb those stairs and open that window and tell God He is all we need. We listen for His voice. We turn our eyes away from circumstances and towards the God of promises and faithful, loving care. We decide to believe He is good. We allow His Word to comfort and redirect and change us. We raise our expectations of the miraculous and flex our faith muscles.
We remind our hearts that God is very, very big and lions and kings are very small.
And then when a big crisis hits, there is no big decision to make. It has already been made.
I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.