Is your ordinary life preparing you for extraordinary moments?
I love extraordinary moments. Maybe it’s the adrenaline or the dopamine hits. I want to live a life that matters, which I often think means that my life can’t be ordinary or mundane or God forbid, boring. But what if this is what most of my life is supposed to be? What if the Instagram life doesn’t exist? What if waking up, enjoying a good cup of coffee, praying, Reading a Psalm by a lit candle, taking the kids to school, doing good work at the office, having one positive exchange with a neighbor, making dinner for your family or friends, exercising, and going to bed at 10pm – what if that is supposed to be what the majority of our days should look like?
And what if how we live these kind of normal days has implications for the days that aren’t so normal? The days where the Spirit of God gives us some unusual supernatural opportunity. Or even days that include a massive testing of our faith.
I don’t know about you, but when I read Scripture, it’s easy for me to think that all of our favorite Bible characters experienced extraordinary moments every single day. But that’s not at all how it played out. Sometimes the people of God waited centuries to hear God’s voice again. Moses, who surely had a supernatural life, spent 40 years tending sheep. Even Jesus. Yes, his last 3 years on earth had a lot of action. But he spent his first 30 years in obscurity…three decades of one common day after another common, ordinary day. But you can be assured of this – what Jesus did during those ordinary days shaped what was to come in his life. And what you do during your ordinary days is shaping what’s to come in your life. And today, I want to close out our series on Daniel by showing you how his ordinary days prepared him for some extraordinary moments. I’m calling this message, “Ordinary Formation for Extraordinary Moments”.
Daniel 6:1-11 It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May Kind Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the kind should issue and edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered – in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
Darius is now king over Babylon. So Daniel has served under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazaar, and now Darius. And they’ve all witnessed something special about Daniel. Darius places three administrators over the 120 satraps and Daniel is one of them. A satrap served under the king and oversaw provinces in the Babylonian empire. So Daniel is one of three people overseeing this group of 120 satraps. But then it gets better…or worse, depending on your perspective.
King Darius makes a plan to set Daniel over the whole kingdom. Why? (v.3) Because Daniel so distinguished himself among all the others by his exceptional qualities. Daniel stood out. This was not about comparison or superiority for him, but his work ethic and character made him stand out above everyone else.
What, if anything, distinguishes you from everyone around you?
This isn’t about being better than others. But if the Spirit of God is alive in us and if we are being formed into the image of Jesus, that will distinguish us from those around us at times.
I also love how, these many years later, Daniel is still giving his best. He wasn’t coasting or phoning it in or resting on his past accomplishments or daydreaming about his retirement.
The other leaders were jealous and tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel. Even though you might not be chosen to oversee a whole kingdom, you have to know this principle:
God isn’t the only one with a plan for your life. You will always face opposition to the life God is calling you to live.
They could find no corruption in Daniel.
Do people you work with have trouble finding any corruption in you?
I don’t mean that they expect you to be perfect. But they know you bring your best at work. They know that you won’t do something illegal or immoral – regardless of what it would mean for the company’s bottom line. They know you don’t talk negatively about your spouse or your kids.
These jealous leaders realize that the only way they’ll be able to charge Daniel is if it has something to do with the law of his God. In other words, maybe his God requires him to live a certain way that is contrary to our kingdom and our king.
Is your faith in Jesus apparent to those around you?
These leaders go and convince King Darius to issue a decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being except the king shall be thrown into the lions’ den. And the king, even though he thinks the world of Daniel, signs off on this edict.
When Daniel learned about this, he went home and never prayed again. No…he went to his room and got down on his knees and prayed. What’s the key phrase in this sentence – “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” JUST AS HE HAD DONE BEFORE.
Daniel had patterns, rhythms, and a way of life that had been formed in him long before he got to this moment. We started this entire series focusing on Daniel 1:8
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
He had already resolved to be a certain kind of person, which led to what he was willing to do and what he would not be willing to do. In chapter 6, we see this amazing faith-filled response from Daniel. You’ll never respond how Daniel responded unless your spiritual formation happens before a moment like this.
There is a pattern to Daniel’s life. And there is a pattern to my life. And there is a pattern to your life.
What is the pattern of your life?
pattern: the repeated or regular way in which something happens or is done
Daniel did not simply have a faith-filled moment; he had a faith-filled life.
How are you currently being formed, so that you can make it through whatever is coming for you?
You are being formed. Inputs, environments, other people, what you choose to engage in, what you refuse to engage in, what you think about, what you do with your body, what you do with your affections, what you do with your phone.
“How do you pray, read the Scriptures, sit under a teaching at church, or rest well on the Sabbath when every chance you get, you reach for the dopamine dispenser that is your phone?” John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
Galatians 4:19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you
How is Christ formed in us? Yes through practices like Scripture, prayer, solitude, silence, service, worship, and more. But this won’t happen unless some other things are dealt with. We can’t be so busy that there’s no time or space to be formed into the image of Jesus. And we can’t be so distracted that we have no attention to give to the One who wants to form us.
Daniel was an important leader in the Babylonian empire. He could have just said, “I don’t have time for prayer or spiritual formation.” He was also surrounded by a culture that could care less about his God. He could have just said, “It’s too hard to be the only person trying to live for God around here.”
When they find Daniel, he is still praying to God and asking for his help. Many of us depend on God only until we get the job, the money, the power, or the influence. Daniel has all of that and he is still asking God for help.
Much of spiritual formation comes down to what we detach from and what we attach to.
Detach from noise; attach to hearing God through silence.
Detach your attention from your phone; attach your attention to Jesus.
Detach from all the striving; attach to abiding
Detach from a life of fear; attach to the love of God that drives out fear
Jesus wants you to be his disciple. But whoever or whatever is forming you most – that’s actually who you are a disciple of. Let’s live our ordinary days – becoming like Jesus, giving our time and attention to what matters most…and then we’ll be ready for whatever extraordinary moments God wants to give us.