Sometimes I think when I know the events of a story well, like that one, I can miss out on the impact of the message. I trivialize the power of God in His Word. So I have been studying the story intently, asking the Lord what it is He wants His children in Haiti to hear from this well-known passage. He has answered my prayers. He answered them in more ways than I asked, more ways than I am comfortable with.
This story has a message for the people of Haiti. But God also chose this story because He has a message for me. As I studied Daniel 3, the Lord brought my mind to an unusual place…Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s parents.
I don’t know who they are. The Bible doesn’t say. It does say that the boys came from nobility and that they were well-informed, qualified to serve in the king’s palace, and showed aptitude for every kind of learning (Daniel 3: 4). In other words, they were well taken care of in this world, their parent’s supported their education, their mothers taught them manners, and they were intellectually and spiritually stimulated at home.
In 2015 this is how that might look… they were PTA parents who avoided feeding their sons too much processed food, made sure they got their homework done, taught them to say yes ma’am and no sir, brought them to church, Sunday School, CCD, GAs, and RAs every week, even read them Bible stories at home. They probably used life moments to teach God lessons, and they modeled Godly behavior in their parenting and their marriage.
This sounds very much like the kind of home I try to create for my children. Most of us would look at that and say, job well done.
But what God revealed to me this week is that yes those things are important, but so many of us stop there with our children. We see our job is to give them every good and perfect gift. And we want to protect them. Oh how we want to protect them.
We try to create a bubble around them in our effort to be sure that worldly deception doesn’t confuse them from the Truth. We guard them from situations where their faith may be tested doubting their readiness to stand against persecution. We go to great extremes to ensure they are not confronted with situations that test their young faith, their tender hearts or their weak minds.
May God forgive us for sinning against our children in this way.
I know I may have just lost some of you. After all isn’t it our job as parents to protect our children. We spend a lot of energy chasing around crawling babies whose goal it seems is to put everything they find in their mouths or toddlers who are intent on jumping off of tall things with no fear. Those types of protection are good and important. But some of us have growing children who we think we can still protect from all of life’s ugliness.
I am convinced what we may be doing is protecting our children from God.
What good would all of the Godly wisdom that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s parents imparted on them have been if they were not in the Babylonian king’s palace trying to live out God’s Word among pagans. These three friends were not mature adults as we would describe them. The Bible calls them young men, probably 12 to 15 years old.
How would the story have turned out if their mothers sent a courier with a little note to the palace that read, “Son, God knows you love Him in your heart and your life is important to Him so when the king asks you to bow to the idol, just go through the motions. Stay Safe - Love Mom“
But God does expect His children to take risks. And that means He expects our children to take risks.
As I write this, I hear a bell sound on my e-mail. It’s another message from the US Embassy letting me know that there are UN demonstrations happening in Haiti. Yesterday, I talked to my daughter’s teacher to let her know that in preparation for our trip, Mackenzie will be starting Malaria pills, which may have difficult side effects.
I don’t like this message from God. I can take risks, but my children, no Lord. I have to protect my children.
He answered me with this... “Train them, equip them, discipline them, bring them up. Those things are good. But what you call protect. I call control. And, baby girl, that’s my job.”
Then He brought me to the beginning of the story about the three friends in Daniel 1. As I read the chapter, repeatedly I saw how God was always in control. It was the Lord that delivered Judah into Babylonian hands, it was the Lord that caused the king to chose Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for service in the palace, it was the Lord that gave knowledge and understanding to the four boys. Over and over again God displays His omnipotent power over all things, both saved and sinner.
As I raise up children to love the Lord, I must also be willing to raise up children who are obedient to His calling and ready to risk everything for the glory of His name and the salvation of the world. I can’t take the former without the latter.
So while wiping the tears running down my face and reigning in the worries trying to run rampant in my heart, I surrender my control to you, Lord. I commit to be a parent whose goal it is not to protect my children from the world, but to introduce them to a God who created the world, support their relationship with the creator who still controls all things and encourage their total surrender to You, no matter the risk.