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There are boundaries, restrictions, roadblocks, and challenges that we all face in life. There are things that threaten our destiny but God gives us the strength and wisdom to thrive in the midst of those things.
The Book of Daniel gives us the playbook to thriving.
To set the stage, Daniel and his two friends have been taken captive by the king of Babylon. Against their will, they have been captured and ordered to serve the king. Everything in their life is being controlled by an outside force, from the food, they eat to their daily activity.
Daniel’s plan and vision for his life were suddenly disrupted and not as a result of anything he did.
But there were three actions that Daniel took regardless of his restrictions.
Daniel had a lot going for him. He rubbed shoulders with the elite, he was handsome and he was smart. He was in his prime and had his whole life ahead of him, full of dreams and goals, and then the rug was pulled from under his feet.
What did Daniel do? He accepted reality.
He recognized he was a prisoner of war. He recognized that against his judgment, he was enrolled into the royal academy for three years to study a language, customs, protocol and literature that he never signed up for.
But yet he realized, this was where he was and he was going to make the best of it.
In order to accept reality, you need to ask yourself two questions:
Question one. Is God omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere at once)? Your answer is going to drive your behavior.
Question two. Do you have the authority and the ability to change your circumstances?
The answer to the first question is yes. That means God knows where you are. He knows what you are going through. He knows who you are going through it with. He knows what your restrictions are. And so if God knows all those things about you and has the ability to bring change but no change is taking place, then you must surrender yourself and let God be the one that sits in the driver’s seat of your life even though you are in a restricted place.
If the answer to the second question is no, that means you need to settle down and realize that where you are and the restrictions that you’re experiencing all line up to reflect the will of God. That doesn’t mean God caused it or was the initiator or author if it. But it does mean that you surrender yourself and sit in the passenger seat of your life. You let God sit in the driver’s seat of your life, give him the steering wheel.
There are no habits and practices that are out of your control.
In Daniel 1:8-16, Daniel requested that he and his friends have the freedom to eat a different diet. He asked for just 10 days to show his caretaker that they would be better as a result. Their request was granted and at the end of the 10 days, they were stronger physically and mentally.
Given your restrictions and limitations, what can you do to keep yourself game ready? Daniel recognized that the discipline of good habits was under his control. Daniel realized that he wanted to be a steward of his life.
One of the disciplines that you can practice is self-awareness. Daniel realized that he wasn’t feeling the best. He wasn’t in a good place mentally or even a dietary way. And as a prisoner of war, Daniel had restrictions. He couldn’t go where he wanted to go or do what he wanted to do. He had hard, fast limitations on his activities. And yet Daniel realized he could remain disciplined and be alert as to how he was feeling.
To remain disciplined, Daniel practiced self-awareness.
Daniel also guarded his thought life.
It’s easy to complain. One of the easiest things to do is to complain. Daniel could have said I hate this place and I don’t want to learn the Babylonian language.
But Daniel wasn’t going to be this pessimist with a nasty attitude. Daniel was not going to sequester himself or get cornered into this trap where so many fall into where they start getting angry with God. God, why did you let this happen?
He didn’t complain. And he didn’t allow his thought life to become so muddy and so disfigured that he would become someone who’s bitter.
You remain disciplined by practicing self-awareness, guarding your thought life and guarding your attitude.
Do Your BEST!
Daniel 1:17-19 says, “God made the four young men smart and wise. They read a lot of books and became well educated. Daniel could also tell the meaning of dreams and visions. At the end of the three-year period set by King Nebuchadnezzar, his chief palace official brought all the young men to him. The king interviewed them and discovered that none of the others were as outstanding as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they were given positions in the royal court.”
They did their best.
God is intimately involved in your learning. Whether you’re in a formal structured academic program or on your job, you’re trying to get to the next rung on the ladder in your professional or personal life, and God is intimately involved.
God knows everything and the beauty about God’s omniscience is that He’s willing to share His knowledge.
Are you going to do your best?
Like Daniel of old, you can accept reality, remain disciplined, and do your best.