Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
For you have defied the Lord of heaven and have had these cups from his Temple brought before you. You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone–gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny! Daniel 5: 23 (NLT)
There’s a fire blazing in the fireplace and our home is warm and cozy as the temperatures dip into the high thirties.
Not far from here, and from where most of us live we can find luxury communities where opulence is the word of the day. Places and people where self-defined worth is determined by the very best that money can buy of places and things—houses, cars, country clubs, shopping malls, restaurants—and where if one looked long enough you might even see or brush elbows with a celebrity or catch a glimpse into the lifestyle of another who is rich or famous.
Every form of media of today glamorizes it and we allow it into our homes through magazines, television, movies and the things we acquire and build. And then we wonder why our children soon hand us lists of things they want, or “need,” instead of things they see that others need. Where our young girls begin to feel as though they need to be like what they see on television to feel accepted, and where young boys begin to believe that might does make right and conquests are a must in their relationships with either gender. We, with incredulity and unknowing stares, wonder where we went wrong as we sip on the latest of the fine wines our friends recommended, while leafing through a travel guide to ports and places far and wide.
Daniel was summoned before King Belshazzar, the son of King Nebuchadnezzar, and extolled as one who could interpret writings and explain some of the enigmas of the day. Daniel was promised that if he could explain the writing that had been written by the fingers of a man’s hand on the wall of the King’s palace, he would be clothed in purple and gold (royalty) and be made the third ruler of the Kingdom.
Any interpretation probably would have sufficed.
But Daniel had the unmitigated gall and temerity to stand before one of those who—like so many today—defined his worth by the number of things he had, by the people whom he controlled and the power he wielded, and let fly with what the scripture above records. And further he went on to add that God had numbered the days of the kingdom of King Belshazzar and determined its end, found him wanting in serving God, and had determined how the kingdom would be divided up among others.
That night King Belshazzar was slain and his kingdom was turned over to Darius. King Darius would go on to fame in the story shared with many generations to follow as one of the key characters in the saga of Daniel in the lion’s den. And through it, Darius would go on to learn his own lesson from the wisdom of Daniel—that in the end would spare his life. Belshazzar was not to be so lucky even though at the end of his life he had a lot of stuff, power and fame.
At the end of it all—what will you have left? At the end of it all—what will you have built into your children? And the end of it all, will your life be characterized by your desire to keep up with others and their appearances—or in serving the Lord?
Will your life reflect a never-ending marathon of having to do more and more, acquire more, achieve enough so that your parents, or others in their stead, or still others in your life, will finally tell you they love you or that you are really something? And at that moment will they mean it anyway? Or will you even believe them? And most important of all—will it be true? And will you be happy?
Or will your life finally get to a place where it reflects a realization that the only affirmation, approval and love that matters has already been given you, on the Cross, by Christ? What will your spouse, your children and friends remember about you—the size of your house and your wine cellar, and the number and make of your cars, or the touch of your heart on their life or the life of another, in a troubled moment of need?
Will they remember all the stuff you left behind, or didn’t leave behind, or will they remember that with every breath you breathed you honored the God who gave you the breath of life and controlled your destiny?
Some things should be so obvious, shouldn’t they?
In His Name—Scott