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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 2

Unmoved and Undismayed (continued)

We may be tempted to wish that we were that kind of man, calm, steady, unmoved - wrongly imagining that this was a matter of Daniel's temperament. If so, it is good for us to remember the kind of man he could be. "I was affrighted, and fell on my face ..." (8:17); "I Daniel fainted ..." (8:27); "Then said he unto me, 'Fear not, Daniel ..." (10:12). This was no man of steel, but one very like most of us, with all our inward quakings, our timidity and our tendency to faint. Yet he was undismayed. In the midst of plots for his destruction, in spite of tremendous pressure to panic or compromise, without any show of strain and in quiet dignity of faith he went straight on with the Lord. And so must we. Perhaps it will help us if we try to discover some of Daniel's secrets.

The Largeness of His Vision

The first reason why Daniel was able to proceed so calmly, as though nothing had happened, was found in the largeness of his vision. If we have a vision that is chiefly concerned with ourselves, our circumstances or our ministry, we shall be puzzled or offended when things begin to go wrong with us. We need, indeed we have, a vision of God's universal and eternal purpose in His Son, and this alone will save us from being overwhelmed in the hour of spiritual conflict.

Daniel looked back, far beyond his own time. The open windows looked out on an original purpose for the people of God, who had had their origin long before his own generation. The Jerusalem which he remembered was a poor affair compared with the true glory of Zion. Most of us are apt to dwell with regret on things as we once knew them, and to sigh for the days of the past. But it is vain, and altogether inadequate so to limit our vision. We have been called for something much bigger than that. We have a part in the Divine purpose which was conceived in eternity and realized in Christ by His Cross. If we set our hearts only on what we have known or experienced, on the limited sphere of our own past, we shall get into confusion when for the time being everything seems to be going wrong. Our natural vision is limited to the immediate, to the present experiences or to the tiny span  of our own lives. We need to be saved from ourselves, and this will be by receiving spiritual vision as to the vast range of the Divine purpose in Christ. Like Daniel, if we look back far enough we shall be kept steady by the reminder of God's original intentions.

Daniel also looked forward. We are told that he not only prayed, but also "gave thanks before his God." Of course there was much cause for thanksgiving in Israel's past history, but to the man of faith, the man of vision, the real motive for praise lies in the future. He had received assurance that there was to be a future for Jerusalem, a future even more glorious than the past. He knew that God would realize His end. It mattered little to him, therefore, if all the fury of hell raged around him for the present; it was of very small importance if he, Daniel, were swept off the face of the earth. Nothing could prevent the fulfillment of the purposes of God. Whatever else happened, the Lord would go marching triumphantly on to His goal. With this conviction, and his windows opened in this direction, Daniel cold afford to ignore his enemies, and to treat all the decrees of men with dignified contempt. "And when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he ... prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime."

The little calamities of the present time are contemptible in the light of certain glories that are to be. We are meant to be people of eternity; we are called to view all present problems and difficulties in their larger setting. It may be true that we, like Daniel, seem to be involved in disaster, that for us the writing is signed which makes our own future quite hopeless. Our vision is not a personal one, nor is our ministry personal, so we must never allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by what is only personal. In Christ we have become for the greatness of His Son. This is the largeness that will lift us out of our own natural pettiness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

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