I was walking with my friend Diana to her car a few weeks ago. We were at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Needless to say, there are like 50 parking lots and 5,599,302 parking spaces (okay, so the fish isn’t quite that big ; ). I didn’t drive with her, so I had no clue where she was parked. I was walking like I knew where her car was, and she was just cracking up. I’d start talking with her and then make a turn or a slight veer to the right. She kept saying, “Chels, where are you going? This way, Chels.” It was quite amusing, and I’m still trying to figure out why it was I thought I knew my way.
About a week later, we were walking out of her office to go downstairs. We had come up one way and would be using the same stairwell to leave. But, for some reason, I was determined to exit another way. I started to go out the double glass doors, when I heard Diana laughing again. “Chels, where are you going? This way, Chels.”
It’s become our little joke now, but that voice reminds me of God. I’m so stubborn. I’m so set in my ways and my plans and my feelings. God has a path set for me, but instead of following His lead, I wander around, acting like I know where I’m supposed to go or what I’m supposed to do. What makes me think I know better than the Lord?
It’s not that I know better. I know I don’t. It’s just that following my own voice is so much easier…in the flesh. It doesn’t lead to the end result I ultimately want, but hey- it’s what I want now.
Isn’t it exhausting to try and keep up with yourself? I don’t know how you parents do it- keeping up with spouses and kids and relatives. My goodness- I can barely keep myself on track, needless to say a whole gang of people! It’s draining. The more I listen to myself and try to follow my advice, the more worn out and weary I feel. I can never be good enough, strong enough, willing enough, ____________ enough. My nagging voice is discouraging and hopeless. I hear of my inadequacy. And I want to give up.
In Daniel 10, Daniel sees a glorious vision- he sees Christ. “His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision.” (v. 6) Can you imagine?
When we see Christ, we are in awe of who He is- His character, His power, His great grace. But, I don’t really see Him enough. I see my version of God- God in a box. I dumb Him down to human understanding when, in fact, He could never be contained in my dinky brain. If I really saw God- really saw Him- I think I would react like Daniel. “No strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned into frailty in me, and I retained no strength.” (v. 8)
Seeing God’s strength makes me realize my own insignificance. Look into the eyes of your Savior and realize there is nothing- nothing inside yourself. I think I’m giving? He gave His life. I think I’m loving? He washed His betrayer’s feet. I think I’m patient? He longsuffered for 33 years on this perverse and fallen earth. I think I’m reaching out? He lived to seek and save the lost. I don’t measure up. Period. End of sentence. What I perceive as strength comes to nothing because of who He is. Nothing in me is good. “O, wretched man that I am!”
Daniel was as low as he could get. Literally- “face to the ground” (v. 9), trembling on his hands and knees (v. 10). That’s where God met him. We think God’s proudest of us when we’re standing tall for Him, but I think He’s much more pleased when we confess our weaknesses and bow in humility.
The next few verses are so powerful. “And he said to me…” (v. 11)
God is speaking directly to Daniel, and Daniel knows because he’s in the position to receive God’s words. He knows that he, in himself, is nothing more than a pile of dust.
But, to God…”O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” Wow. Greatly beloved. What does God call you- what does He call me? O Chelsea, carnally minded? O Chelsea, self-reliant woman? O Chelsea, woman after my heart? What does my character boil down to in God’s eyes?
“While he was still speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.” (v. 11) Daniel’s humility didn’t escape when God called him to stand. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” Daniel recognized God’s holiness and his nothingness, and because of that, God called him to stand.
“Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you SET YOUR HEART to understand, and to HUMBLE YOURSELF before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.” (v. 12) God is waiting- waiting for us to make up our hearts. Yep, I said it- make up our hearts. We might have our minds attuned to God, but is our heart, the core of our being- determined to understand and follow after Him?
“From the first day” we do that, God hears us. He hears our cry for help. And as Abba, our Father, He comes to our rescue. He comes to speak directly.
Daniel’s vision caused him sorrow and grief- he saw what was to come and felt overhwelmed. “Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, ‘O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes be strong!'” (v. 18-19)
There’s something in His voice. Something in His touch. Something in His gentle spirit that keeps me longing for more. I try to be strong and independent. I realize only vulnerability and complete dependency upon Him is the answer. I think I know my own way and am determined to stay my course. I realize His path is the best. And I think I can pridefully approach the throne with bold requests. I realize the importance of a gentle and quiet spirit.
“So when he spoke to me I was strengthened…” (v. 19)