The well-known British author Jack Higgins in one of his interviews was asked this question ‘What is it that you now know that you wish you had known when you were a young man?’ Jack Higgins did not think long and answered immediately ‘I wish somebody had told me then that when you get to the top there is nothing there!’
German tennis player Boris Becker after he had won his second Wimbledon title said in one of his interviews that the greatest struggle in his life was his battle with suicidal tendency. Can you imagine a man who had conquered his field of expertise uttering the fact that one of his greatest struggles was the struggle with suicide?
The loneliest moment in life is when you have experienced that which you thought would be the ultimate pleasure and it has let you down.
Now let us ponder upon certain questions that arises.
Is it possible to be a totally fulfilled human being without violating the laws of God?
Is it possible to be a disciplined man without crossing the boundary lines that God has set as the blue print for each of us? And if so, what does that kind of human being look like?
Life of Prophet Daniel
A character study of the Old Testament Prophet Daniel will help us to draw some principles from his life that will enable us to draw the lines in the right places so that you can be a disciplined man in whom and through whom God does His works.
The Word of God in the Book of Daniel Chapter 1: 1-8 says
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—
4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
The Plight of Israel
About a thousand years before Daniel had come on the scene, God had delivered the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt into the promise land. That Journey could have been a very short journey. But God took them through that wilderness experience for forty years so that they will learn three of the most important lessons in life. Firstly, Humility. God wanted them to be able to look into their own hearts and see their heart as He see it. Secondly, God wanted to teach them spirituality so that they will know that man would not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Thirdly, Faith. So that as they wandered in the wilderness for four decades, He took care of all their needs and never left them desolate.
But the nation as it settled in the promised land had lost the three precious truths that God taught them through that wilderness experience for forty years and are in bondage again to the Babylonian king. The king made it a specific task to select the most able bodied and minded young men from Judah to bring them to the palace to be able to be re-programmed by giving them a new kind of literature, a new kind of language, a new system of values, a new way to think and he took the best of them. The Bible narrates the story of at least four of them. Daniel and the three friends that he had.
Three Lessons from Daniel
Now let us understand the principles Daniel espouse and we will see how the King recognized that there was something extra-ordinary about this young man.
The first thing that the king tries to do was to soften them up, banqueting them, vining and dining them and here Daniel drew his first line. He drew his line of resistance by training his appetites. He told the King to give him a meagre diet and he will be happy and content with that. Daniel gives us a very significant message here. We are responsible every day of our lives for training our hungers and training our passions. We are filled with hungers – physical hungers, emotional hungers, intellectual hungers, relational hungers, spiritual hungers and it is imperative that we train what we begin to enjoy in a disciplined way and shun what we know can get us softened up and lose us to the service of God. Daniel learned to resist it early enough so that he would not get trapped into the life style where he got used to these desires. How often we have put ourselves at risk spiritually when we do not draw the lines of our appetite and train them? It is important to draw the line of resistance by the training of our appetite.
Secondly, Daniel had clear dependence on GOD. When the King had a dream, he asked Daniel to interpret it. Daniel depended not on his learning to interpret the king’s dream. The fascinating thing about Daniel is that with all of his learning he knew exactly how limited his learning was that he needed to lean on God’s wisdom and not on his own philosophy and education. Education can give us knowledge but it is God that gives us wisdom upon that knowledge. In this era across the world, we see the increase of knowledge and understanding and yet we see the emptiness and the loneliness and the fragmentation of human life. We lost the wisdom to know how to live. We lost the ability to discern between good and evil. The Book of Proverbs says ‘Fear of Lord is the beginning of Wisdom’.
And finally Daniel had huge confidence in GOD. They tried to force him to choose between God and the king. Daniel chose to follow God no matter what happens. Daniel was not ready to bend his knees to a false God even if he were to be thrown into a lion’s den. He trusted GOD like anything.
The Lines of resistance, dependence and confidence are those disciplines that mold us into the blue print that God has for us in our lives. When you draw these lines to become the Man of God, people will watch your good works and convictions and they will be drawn even more to our Heavenly Father. As we know, there are nations without wisdom where the lines are drawn in different places. Let us make a commitment now to draw our lines of resistance, dependence and confidence. May God use us to bring many people to cross the line to put their hand into the Hand of the living God.
– – – written by Surjith Jacob