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Friday, September 5, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 3

Unmoved and Undismayed (continued)

Daniel saw far beyond his own surroundings. He had gone to his house and entered his own chamber. It may well have been a large room, as rooms go, but in any case it was bounded by the four walls of what was essentially his. He did not look at the things around him, but away through the open windows towards the city of his God. How important it was at that critical moment that he should not look around to what was merely local, to the unpromising circumstances in which he himself was found, but should keep well in view the Divine prospect of the God-filled glory of Jerusalem. Only the eye of faith could see that city then, but Daniel had the eye of faith. Surely it was this vision that kept him steadfast.

There is a sense in which men who are under great pressure to capitulate or compromise can only resist the temptation by remembering that their "cause" is much greater than themselves. They are kept true by the realization that, provided they do not despair, the cause with which they are associated will ultimately triumph in spite of anything which may happen to them. How much more is this the case with those whose "cause" is spiritual! Had Daniel's main preoccupation been about his own survival he could not have behaved as he did. If he had been thinking chiefly of how he himself could be preserved, he would probably have made terms with his enemies or in some way capitulated. To him, however, the vision was so great that his biggest concern was, not as to whether he could survive, but as to whether he could remain faithful. He felt that he had to be faithful because of the very importance and vastness of the issue.

This constraint to be faithful was noticeable in every part of Daniel's life. It was true, not only in the prayer chamber when he was on his knees, but also in every feature of his ordinary daily life, that "he was faithful" (verse 4). There can be nothing mean or insignificant in the life of a man who finds himself associated with a great Divine purpose: he realizes that this association demands a very high standard in every aspect of his daily life. Few of us can be placed in such difficult circumstances as Daniel was in Babylon. And very few indeed have kept as faithful as he did in the many tests and temptations which came his way. Perhaps it was because he had so learned faithfulness in the smaller matters that he triumphed so completely in this supreme testing.

If Daniel had considered it most important that he himself should survive, it would have been very simple for him to have refrained either from praying, or from kneeling to do so, or from leaving the windows open for all to see. After all, he was no slave in Babylon, but a man of great importance. He was no enemy of Darius, but his good friend. Had he wished he could have kept his personal safety, and no doubt he could think of many many good reasons why he should try to do so. But then what would happen to Jerusalem? What would happen to the purposes of God for His people? To Daniel it was the vision that mattered, not his own personal good. And in this very way he found his own deliverance. The man who remains true to the God-given vision can afford to leave the question of his own fate in the hands of the Giver of that vision.

This, then, is the challenge which comes to so many of us, the call to be faithful to the vision. Daniel reminds us of how important it is that one man should remain steadfast to the Lord. None of us knows how much of great Divine purposes may be served by our simple faithfulness. In a sense we do not matter at all. It is not important for us to avoid the den of lions, to be saved from difficulties, to justify ourselves or fight for our own position. But in another sense it matters supremely that we should be true to the Lord. In order that we may do so, we need to keep in view the largeness of the vision.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (The Greatness of His God)

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