My friend Diana and I were strolling through a mega-church parking lot a few weeks ago. Needless to say, there were like 5,599,302 parking spaces (okay, so the fish wasn’t quite that big ; ). I didn’t drive with her and had no clue where she was parked. Yet, I was walking as if her blue Sentra was calling my name. I’d start talking with her and then make a turn or a slight veer to the right. She laughed, saying, “Chels, where are you going? This way, Chels.” 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 chuckling. “Chels, where are you going? This way, Chels.”
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.
The more I listen to myself and follow my own advice, the more worn out and weary I feel. I can never be good enough, strong enough, willing enough, ____________ enough. My inadequacy overtakes me, and I want to throw in the towel.
Daniel felt the same way, but he didn’t wallow in his insufficiency.
In Daniel 10, he sees a glorious vision—Jesus Christ Himself. “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)
You probably didn’t catch that the first time. Read it again. Seriously.
Can you imagine? A body like beryl. A brilliance of light illuminating His face. Eyes set aflame, and limbs that glow. A voice resounding as if a multitude. And Daniel was the only one there.
I don’t know about you, 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 reality, He could never be contained in my dinky brain. If I could really wrap my mind around Him each day, 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)
Coming into personal contact with the strength of the Lord sheds light on your own insufficiency.
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. What I perceive as strength comes to nothing because of who He is. Not an ounce of me is good. “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
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 often think God is 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.
“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, restless child? O Chelsea, self-reliant woman? O Chelsea, woman after my heart? What does my character boil down to in God’s eyes? I think it has a lot to do with our position before His throne.
“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 for us to make up our hearts. We might have our minds attuned to God, but are our hearts, the core of our beings, 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 to His kids.
Daniel’s vision caused him sorrow and grief. He saw what was to come and felt overwhelmed, but God didn’t leave him there. “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 that keeps me longing for more. I try to be strong and independent. I realize only vulnerability and complete dependency upon Him will do. I mark my own path, determined to stay the course. I realize His path is best. I think I can pridefully approach the throne with bold requests. I realize the importance of a gentle and quiet spirit birthed out of humility.
“So when he spoke to me I was strengthened…” (v. 19)
***SheSpeaks is an annual conference that connects women to the heart of God, providing them with the tools necessary to step out on faith and step up to proclaim. SheSpeaks is for speakers, writers, and leaders who have a desire to learn and grow in their gifts for ministry. This updated post is a submission for a SheSpeaks scholarship, offered on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. If you are interested in applying for the scholarship, visit this link for more information.