I’ve been looking back through my journal lately, reminding myself of lessons learned in the past couple of months and trying to determine whether or not I have actually put those lessons into action. As I ponder through them, many of them will probably show up here, intermingled with the more recent thoughts from Scripture and life.
One that stands out to me today came from an October reading from Daniel.
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:1-3
I have read this passage many times. I think I’ve just skimmed past it, though, because Daniel’s apocalyptic visions are so hard to wrap my mind around. But this time something really stood out to me. Daniel had been taken from his home as a young man – possibly in his teens – when God’s judgment fell on Jerusalem and Judah and the exile began. According to Jeremiah, the length of the exile was to be seventy years. Obviously, Daniel was observing that this time was coming to an end because his prayers began to center on the restoration of Jerusalem and her people.
It was this focus of prayer that really grabbed my attention and my heart this time around. Daniel was an old man by now, and he had been through quite a bit in his years. I’m sure there were many times of fear and uncertainty in his life as he went through this trial and that challenge, including being thrown into a den of starving lions. He had endured power changes and had managed to be elevated to high positions in almost every one. He had seen prosperity and success, but he had also seen without a doubt that he could have a good, solid, vibrant, growing relationship with the one true God even in the pagan land of Babylon. Even as he served closely under pagan kings, he could remain true to his faith. He saw his God meet every last one of his spiritual needs right where he was.
And yet, he prayed fervently that he and his people be restored to their home.
In our eyes, it seems insane for Daniel to not be fully satisfied where he is. In all his prosperity, both spiritual and political, he’s not content? His life has not been full and good?
But the key here is that it wasn’t about Daniel’s life. It was about God’s heart. As Daniel read the prophecies of Jeremiah, he knew that God’s heart was intent on the restoration of His people to their home. His will for the future of His chosen people and the world as a whole revolved around the restoration of Jerusalem. Daniel saw God’s heart. And, as he saw God’s heart, he hungered, longed, and even passionately needed to be in the center of that will. Even if it meant surrendering all of the success he had seen throughout his life. Even if it meant a change. Even if it meant a return to a land he could hardly remember.
We have no record that Daniel actually did return to Jerusalem with the exiles. But, I don’t think that was the point for Daniel. I think the point was that his focus was to be the same as God’s, regardless of what happened to him personally. As I read of Daniel’s heart, my heart longs to be the same way. I long for nothing to matter but God’s will. I long for my heart to be so in line with God’s that I don’t care about my life. I am instead passionate about His plan. I want my heart to be so hungry for His will to be accomplished that it is an intense need of mine to be in the center of His will.
I want a heart like Daniel’s.