School season is about to start or even have already started for some. Parents, guardians, students are often excited when purchasing back to school supplies as they prepare to go back to school in the fall. It is a time filled with immense excitement and eagerness, students are getting ready to meet new people, make new friends, learn new things, be in a new school, new grade, new semester, new teachers and on and on. Although this is fun and exciting time, it could also be very hectic and busy for parents and guardians as they want to make sure their children get all the needed supplies to be set up for success in the new academic year.
As I reflect on this new upcoming academic year, it reminds of Daniel, a young man and his friends who found themselves in a new land that they did not consent to be there. I find Daniel to be a great character study as students, parents, guardians prepare for this new academic year. Daniel excelled in being in a new land which was Babylon and today’s devotion, let us study and meditate on the life of Daniel in the book of Daniel Chapter 1 on how Daniel did it.
Who is Daniel?
First, Daniel was among the captives that were sent to Babylon in 605 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar. Although Daniel was a captive sent into a foreign land, Daniel was able to serve in the highest offices of state at Babylon, but he was ever true to God. First, the name Daniel means “God is my Judge”. The parents of Daniel I believe were led by the Spirit of God to chose to name him “God is my judge” knowing the future of this young man. Daniel was born into a world in which he was bound to face some really difficult challenges, in which God will be the only one to vindicate him. The name Daniel instilled in him a strong sense to live His life in absolute obedience and commitment to God as his name meant “God is my judge.”
Daniel & his friends in a New World (Babylon)
Daniel and his friends found themselves in a new world they had not prepared for. They had no intention or plan to be in Babylon. Daniel and his friends who are faithful followers of God and now are in a place where God was not honored and worshipped as they were used to in their hometown. Babylon was a strange place which did everything upside down in their view of the world. Sometimes that is how some of our school environments may look like. A new world compared to what we know and accept should be acceptable it is the opposite. I remember my first experience in high school in the US, let just say it took a long time to get over the culture shock of how things operate in this school as compared to Ghana. In all of this happenings, there was a strong pull to absorb me into the new culture and lose myself but Glory to God the grace of God sustained me.
The key things I have noted in the life of Daniel that I believe can be great examples for us to emulate to be able to remain true to our identity as children of God wherever we go are:
(1)Commitment to God
Daniel and his friends did not allow themselves to be conformed to the system and cultures of Babylon but rather stood firm and maintained their faith and commitment to God. In the 8th verse of Daniel 1, Daniel determined not to defile himself with the food that has been offered to the gods of Babylon. The Babylonians were determined to transform Daniel and his friends to become like them but because of their commitment to God they could not. They changed their names but could change their hearts. The hearts of Daniel and his friends were filled with the teachings and word of truth that they have known in their upbringing as children of God. This foundation that was laid up in these ones kept them from being corrupted. To be able to stay committed to God is most effective with a prayerful life. Daniel’s commitment to honor and obey God was possible because his relationship with God was strengthened through his prayerfulness. Beloved let’s stay connected to God through prayer to enable us to be committed to Him.
(2)Confident in God
Daniel ’s bold decision to not defile himself was based on his (faith) confident in God. Daniel said to the caretaker “test us and see that we will come out of these 10 days looking better by just eating only vegetables”. Daniel’s confident in God was affirmed by belief in God’s word and the experiences of God’s people when God had proven Himself faithful to His people. As you go on into this new academic year be confident in God in all things. Dwell on the memories of your own experiences with God to strengthen your faith. Do not yield into their enticing deceptions but stay strong and hold on to God’s word of promises. Please dear one, do not allow yourself to be deceived and lured by the ungodly passions and deceptions of this world. Be confident in God that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it unto to a glorious end in Christ Jesus.
(3) Consistent Character
Daniel remain consistent with God, they did not change who they are, they maintained who they are. In the end, the scripture says Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 1. Daniel did not change his faith when things got difficult. It started with food, then dreams, the den of lions, and the fire to burn his friends. Daniel faced so many challenges in Babylon but in all of this, he never gave in to the pressures of the world. He stayed true and confident in God and truly God manifested Himself to him. My dear one, as you have begun with God, go all the way with God. Stay true and consistent with your Christian life and God will always be faithful.
God blesses the work of our hands. Daniel as a wise man was put to work. He did a lot of studying to be able to understand the operations in Babylon to serve as a good advisor to the king. He was a diligent student of God’s word and He will always recall the words of God when He sought for answers. As we go back to school, let us be diligent in our school work. God who blessed and established Daniel for diligent work in Babylon will also bless you as you commit to doing well in the work you have been called to do as a student. As a student, you honor and glorify God with the excellent work you do. I entreat you to do study well and excel as God is your ever present help at all times.
Daniel surrounded himself with good company. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fellow young men who had set themselves not to be defiled but to stay committed to God. These ones were Daniel’s prayer partners, friends and study mates. As we go back to school, let us beware of bad influences that can derail us from the path we have set our hearts to follow. Good company can help us to stay focus, encourage and support us to reach our goals.
My beloved young fellows, let us go back to school with God using the 5 “C’s” (Commitment, Confident, Consistent Character, Competence, and Company). In all our preparedness physically to face the academic year, let us also prepare ourselves spiritually with God’s word and prayer to be able to face the academic year for great outcomes. The Word of God is a lamp unto your feet and light upon your path, may God’s word lead, guard and guide you in this academic year so you may come out successfully to God’s glory.