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The Highlight Reel

Caleb's HIghlight

I have been watching my sons compete in athletics for a decade and a half. Over the years, I have compiled a number of highlight films to capture the memories of their football exploits. There are great runs, crushing tackles, interceptions run back for touchdowns and game winning passes. You would think they never lost a game! Watching those films are fun but they certainly don’t capture the whole story. There are no clips of the long hours in the weight room or long miles of running when no one was watching. There is no footage of time in the training room recovering from injuries. The days of introspection, asking themselves if they should push on and continue to challenge their bodies and minds with the grueling life of an athlete, are missing from the end product. The proof that they did all that is announced in the short but sweet highlights.
Daniel 1:21 is one of those short clips from the life of Daniel that speaks volumes. “And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.” “There” is in the service of King Nebuchadnezzar advising the ruler of Babylon. What is striking about the statement is that it puts Daniel well into his seventies. The “first year of King Cyrus” was the year the Israelites were given the freedom to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1) and marked the beginning of the end of their seventy year captivity. Daniel was roughly fifteen when he was taken captive, so by verse 21 Daniel has held firm to his convictions and grown in his influence for more than 60 years.
We know he persevered through some very difficult challenges because “Daniel remained.” We know he was given wisdom to deliver outstanding advice because “Daniel remained.” We know he chose not to compromise over and over again because “Daniel remained.” We know he flourished in an environment of jealous opposition because “Daniel remained.”
In fact, some of his greatest exploits occurred late in his life. He didn’t spend the night with lions until he was well into his eighties. Daniel 6 begins with the words, “It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel.” (v. 1-2) Darius took over about 19 years after Cyrus which makes Daniel an old man. He still has great influence and is still strong enough to be perceived as a threat to the other advisors.
The point here is not about age. I am simply impressed that Daniel served God his entire life. As long as he had breath, he was true to his convictions and the gifts God had chosen for him. Despite the disappointments and difficulties of life, he pressed on. Despite the confusing questions and frustrating setbacks, he pressed on. Despite the obstacles and seemingly impossible circumstances, he pressed on. Despite the temptation to be proud over his astounding victories, he pressed on. In one simple statement, “And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus,” we realize the Daniel was a man of character and perseverance.
Verse 21 challenges me to press on in hopes that the highlight reel of my life makes the statement that I stuck to God’s plan through all the rigors and victories I will face.

One Response

  1. You did again! Hit me right between the eyes! You’d think I had some great obstacle standing in front of me (like a lion in his den) the way I cower at the thought of “keepin on” with the challenge that is presently in front of me. Some times the challenge is to “stay in the game”!
    Perseverance! Not a difficult word to spell or say, but oh my! Focus, purpose, the drive or will to overcome, hard work, patience, endurance, able to bear difficulties, commitment. How many ways can we describe what it takes to reflect perseverance.
    The verses I choose to help me maintain focus and understand the true meaning of success,

    Joshua 1:8
    Keep this book book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night,so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

    Thanks again Bill……..

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