A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
good news makes for good health.
Recently I dropped my daughter off at her youth group and went to a sister church who was studying Daniel. Though this was the third time to return to this class – a church we attended many years ago and have many loved ones – this particular teacher didn’t know me.
The text was Daniel 6, Daniel in the Lion’s Den. It’s so much more than a children’s story that can come across as a fairy tale at times. It speaks of God’s relationship with Daniel, and Daniel’s faithfulness to impart God’s wisdom. Every king to obey God through Daniel succeeded, or repented, and one unfortunately was obliterated on the spot.
I made a comment admiring Daniel’s faithfulness, and have sought to be as faithful, but know I have some work to do and aim more for that goal every day.
The teacher immediately went to Hebrews 11. I love this passage, but felt the teacher might have thought I was unchurched, a new Christian or something along those lines. He then spoke to everyone, We can have this faith. Then pointing my way, Can you have this faith?
I did a double take between my ears and didn’t respond in case he was not pointing to me. But he repeated the action and the phrase.
Somewhat surprised I said, Are you talking to me? He didn’t respond.
An aside, though we never saw the movie “Taxi Driver,” my husband and I usually quote this line in a Robert DeNiro voice. So I couldn’t help myself. In my best DeNiro I replied again, You talkin’ to me? The teacher smiled and a few laughs broke out cutting the tension. This particular church appreciates the impact Christianity has had on art and vice versa, so it was a natural exchange.
He nodded, and went on.
Afterwards, as we left the building, the teacher held the door open for me and commented, Thank you for participating tonight. He built me up as well.
And then it happened. It came out – that part of me which enjoys connecting to other Christians through identifying that myself as a Christian – or I admit that sometimes it’s insecurity that needs assurance by making sure the other person knows I am a committed Christian. I am slowly growing out of this as my word and actions should show that I am who I am in Christ. I find myself explaining less the older I get.
But I got creative, and know I am not the only one whose fallen for a little bragging, but, yes, I fell for that one too.
I love Hebrews 11. In fact, I recently did a 5K race (and name-dropped the race as it was a well-known one – though part of me was simply grateful for having participated). My playlist included Hebrews 11-13. As I spoke, I felt the Holy Spirit’s inner presence guiding me, and any trace of ill-motivation fell away, and progressed naturally.
Another aside, I love road races. John and I have been connected to the race community for over twenty years. We have enjoyed supporting others and ourselves enjoyed participating in the races, always feeling a deep sense of connection to Hebrews 11-13.
The teacher and I then realized most of the people from church were in their cars or far from us. Feeling the awkwardness of it all, we then set to proving our familial faithfulness.
I dropped my daughter off with her youth group and my husband is working. I wish he were here. He would have loved the class.
He then introduced himself, got my name and added, My wife and two boys were on the back row. So we talked family, and before anymore awkwardness could set in, I asked, So, what books are you reading?
As he walked me out the direction of my car for safety’s sake – for it was dusk – we discussed some wonderful books that we each either have read or will add to our reading list.
On my way to pick up our daughter, I called one of my college roomates, a close friend and sister in Christ. She shared her own mixed-motivations and how she has learned from them. In it all, we had a grand laugh, as well as my husband later that night, and then my parents the next day.
Before this post sounds much ado about nothing, I want to say that not only did I glean more about Daniel’s faithfulness – for we know nothing of any of his motivations except that his actions were honorable – yet, we can deduce that his motivations were pretty spot on.
There were other saints in Scriptures whose motivations were mixed, and yet God’s grace extended to them. Yahweh covered them and turned their stories around as they grew their faith. How grateful I am to live in an age of Grace, where walking with Jesus not only comes with truth spoken in love, but I find He laughs with us in our humanity.
I am also grateful for growing up with some special people who themselves have shared their imperfections and gotten a great laugh at the end of the day. My parents are at the top of this list, and have told many a story on themselves which have become legendary. My husband and I, as well, love laughing at our foibles as we learn. How wonderful Grace is! How I want to give it more!
There is nothing like story to help us tie and bind us together more in relationship to Jesus and to each other.