Where, when, and how, do we attain excellence in any area of life?
Recently, I started to read the book of Daniel, and slowly began to unravel his characteristics and life while in captivity under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Daniel, was said to have had the spirit of excellence. This is always intriguing and fascinating to me, the idea that a human being can be excellent. I realized, if you want to be excellent, you must study the characteristics of those who are and have been excellent. Watch those who preceded with the Spirit of excellence and learn the tricks of the trade. What does all this have to do with the here and the now, amidst the global pandemic?
Daniel was one of the captives in Babylon, from Judah. Though that may be very different from quarantine and self-isolation, it is still captivity (or no freedom). Right now we’re all experiencing the limited freedom, among other restrictions.
The first chapter shows Daniel’s initial characteristics that lead to everything else. He was obedient to God first. He sacrificed and refused delicacies to keep the commandments God gave him. His obedience came before God allowed favour over him from those who took him captive, and before he was promoted to a position at the King’s gate. This tells me the first step to excellence is obedience.
The word says, “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” When we fear the Lord, we are obedient to His commands. Obedience lead to favour from the Lord, which ultimately leads to favour from all, as nothing can reach us that God does not allow. God also blessed him with knowledge and wisdom. During his time of eating just fruit and vegetables, Daniel was trained by the Babylonians. Eventually he was interpreting the king’s dreams and placed in a high position under the king’s authority. Then the people of that land, out of jealousy, began to attack him and accuse him and his three companions. The four men remained faithful to the Lord. They remained obedient.
Obedience is the key word. There were times when as young women, we had blatantly ignored the commands of God. I myself have ignored when God said, “Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.” Thankfully, God will chastise and discipline us until wills are aligned with His. You cannot ignore instructions, and expect a positive outcome. That’s like taking home and ikea shelf, and deciding that you want to assemble it crookedly and different, because you’re way looks more appealing, then complaining that the books are falling off. (I’ve actually done that btw, don’t judge me!)
If you want a godly husband, don’t go searching for him at the public house. If you find a man at the PUB don’t expect him to suddenly accept Jesus and get baptized, etc. If you want to excel in your crafts/skills, don’t expect that partying all week or watching TV all night, will get you there. “You cannot pour new wine into old wine skins.”
What is God trying to weans out of your personhood right now? What are characteristics God is asking you to develop? Are you obedient? Are you hearing from God so that you may be obedient to His voice? I want to challenge you today, to listen and obey.
Take an hour today, to worship, then listen. We can pray, cry out to, and beg God all we want for our lives, but if we don’t stop to listen we won’t know what to obey. Today, spend time listening. God does speak. Write down everything He says to you. If He gives you a picture, write it down. A verse, write that down too. Listen, document, and obey. Then refer to His responses every time you need. Make this a daily part of your life, and watch how everything changes IN and around you.
R. A Douglas
April 26, 2020