Making up Your Mind

Day 21

“The integrity [That’s to do the right thing] of the upright [the people who are trying to do the right thing], guides them…”

– Proverbs 11:3

In past months, I’ve used an illustration of a guardrail. So to review, the definition of a guardrail is: a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. Ultimately they are placed to protect you from extreme danger, and direct you back to a safe path. And when applied in our lives, it sets boundaries in keeping us from wrecking our lives, by protecting and directing us. So to wrap up this series, I’m going to go to the story of Daniel – how it all started for him, and for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Way back in 600 B.C., we see King Nebuchadnezzar marching all over the place and wreaking havoc, and in the process he is also taking back with him each nation’s best and brightest young men. His plan was to begin a training program in stripping away their entire heritage and all their beliefs, with a grand plan to mold them into Babylonians. What they were saying to the young men was, “you thought you were smart before, so forget your Masters – you’re getting ready to get your Ph.D. We’re going to give you a three year free, all paid for college education, with a food allowance that comes right off the king’s table.” In other words, most of the captives who found themselves in this program were high fiving each other going, “Oh, my gosh! We thought we were going to die in the desert. We thought we were going to die like our parents and grandparents. We thought we were going to work in the salt mines, the copper mines. We’re going to live in the palace, eat the king’s food, and they’re going to educate us. This is unbelievable.” And this is where the story of Daniel and his three amigos begins…

Daniel was so smart that he saw through the whole plan. He saw the end game and he realized: They’ve changed my clothes, they’ve changed my name, they’ve changed my habits, and they’ve changed my schedule. I realize where this is going. One day I will have completely abandoned everything I held near and dear. Here’s what the scripture tells us about what Daniel did… Daniel 1:8 ”but Daniel made up his mind.”

He did this in placing a “guardrail,” in saying enough is enough—that’s as far as I go. That’s as close as I get, and if I go any further I’m going to end up wrecking my life. It didn’t matter that he could’ve had the best of everything, but in setting clear boundaries, he protected his relationship with God, and God honored him, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And when it came time for them to graduate, this is what the scripture says…Daniel 1:20 “And in all matters requiring information and balanced judgment, the king found these young men’s advice ten times better than that of all the skilled magicians and wise astrologers in his realm.”

What happens from this point on in the story, because Daniel made up his mind—his decision to draw a line in the sand was the very thing God used to direct his entire life. In the end, don’t decide the problem with a guardrail is “it keeps me from good things, it keeps me from having fun, it’s going to be so weird, my friends aren’t going to understand, it’s so extreme…” but choose to draw a line in the sand, to make up your mind. That decision, for many of you, will be a defining moment! You will look back and say, “God didn’t simply just protect me, but I feel like God directed or redirected my entire life because I made up my mind.”

Confession for today: “Today, Jesus, I’m going to make up my mind to do the right thing, so that I will not only be protected, but You will direct my entire life in this crazy, mixed up world, in using me for Your purpose – just like Daniel.”

Living for Today,

Mr. Tom