God’s Steady Grip
What if American civilization were to crash and burn, and the things we cherish most; freedom, family, and finances were to all be obliterated? How would you feel? What would you do? Where would you turn?
It’s a depressing thought, isn’t it?
This world is out of control. We live in terrifying times. The world order, in so many places, is spiraling into disorder. The moral compass in our own country is broken, and our contentment needle is stuck in a dangerous red zone. The trends are not pretty, and frankly, the outlook is not encouraging. It seems there’s nothing we can do about it. We have no control.
We might ask: if we have no control, then what controls us?
It’s a perfect time to look into the Bible at the person of Daniel, a young man who was asked to live in a world coming apart, and who did so without himself coming part.
In Chapter 1 of the Book of Daniel, we find ourselves in the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had come to Jerusalem and besieged it. After his victory, he ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring some young men of Judah’s royal family—who had been brought to Babylon as captives—to his palace.
Do you see what’s beginning to happen here? Nebuchadnezzar is dipping into the best of the gene pool in Israel—taking the most beautiful and brightest lads—and indoctrinating them in Mesopotamian culture, enrolling them in the ‘University of Babylon,’ and teaching them the literature and the language of the Chaldeans.
This language includes astrology, the art of divination, the reading of omens, analyzing the shapes of livers, the flight patterns of birds, even the content of dreams to predict current events. It’s the exact sort of superstitious and paranormal activity that the people of God were to repudiate.
The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens while they were trained for three years. However, Daniel and his friends denied the cuisine.
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.” — Daniel 1:8
Could you imagine? No meat, no cheese, no nuts, no bread, no fruit, no chocolate…just vegetables. A normal person would wither away!
Daniel didn’t care. He refused to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king and a miracle happened. Daniel and his friends became better looking and fatter in flesh by eating vegetables only—simply impossible apart from a miracle!
It’s such a great story. You take a stand for God, you refuse to be defiled by the world and you are ten times more successful than those who don’t. You make a change in your life, to hand your life over to God. You simply let go, and give God control over your life.
Does the stressful, demanding atmosphere of work control you? What about the desire for a romantic companionship, the ambition for success, a new promotion, that shiny degree, the approval of people, or the general pursuit of happiness in a conservative and civil America – do these things control you?
Or is it God that controls you?
It’s often the hardest thing to know. How do you take a step back from yourself and look at yourself objectively to determine what it is that controls you? It’s like trying to observe your breathing. It’s hard to assess what you do so naturally. We are so naturally controlled by what controls us, that we hardly even realize it.
So how do we make sure God controls our lives? Well, there’s great news: we don’t have to.
Our lives are controlled by God. We don’t make sure that happens — he makes sure of it. Christians, the moment we gave Christ our life and said, ‘Yes, my life is controlled by you … I give up control of my life to you,’ our life was taken over. We received a new life — newness of life in the resurrected Christ. Not the old life in which the world around us controlled us, but a new life in which God is in control of us.
Daniel knew God was in control of his health, and his life. He knew about God’s steady grip. Do you?