Daniel in the Den of Kings

coffee, cup, laptop, memeI’m a little sad. I’ve just finished the last chapter of Daniel. It’s seemed so short. Every time I read this book, I learn.

So, who is Daniel, really? Is he more than the man who defied the king’s edict and faced the lions’ den?

So much is revealed about the prophet Daniel in this book. If you do a bit of digging, you may be surprised by what you find.

He was a little like Joseph. Both men lived through dire circumstances, yet their obedience and great faith in God allowed them to prosper in the midst of difficult times.

Daniel rose to a position of authority that lasted through several sieges, from Nebuchadnezzar to Darius the Mede. Though Daniel served in the courts of kings, he was not ruled by them. Ultimately, he answered to God, as he proved over and over. And, no surprise, he suffered persecution for his faith.

Thus the den of lions.

This next statement of Daniel’s grabbed my attention and opened a window in my heart and mind:

And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him. Daniel 11:1 [NIV]

Daniel took his stand to support and protect Darius the Mede? I’m reminded of the scripture, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)

Bring this home to your current situation. Do you “seek the peace and prosperity” of the company (occupation, job) in which God has placed you? Or do you constantly revile them, and curse them with your complaints and unkind words? (Gee, this could also apply to marriage.)

I have to tell you, I’ve done it in the past. Many of us pray for a job, a good position, and when we get it, we’re praising God. But time passes and the shiny newness wears off. The honeymoon is over. We become unhappy. We murmur and complain about the gift of God to us.

Daniel’s position was one of honor, and I imagine he had the ability to live pretty well, though he didn’t take everything given. He refused to eat the rich food of the kings. Anything that stood in the way of his worship of Almighty God, he tended to reject. But he prayed for the king who sat on the throne. He didn’t try to escape, because he knew God’s word. He knew God had a plan and he was in it.

It seems to me, if God truly has opened doors and placed me in a position, He might be a little displeased with my complaining. If I’m unhappy with a situation, maybe I should try praying, which is what Daniel did. And his obedience and faith brought this next statement from the angel, Gabriel:

He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” {Daniel 10:11-12 NIV}

To hear words like these, in answer to your prayer! What a thrill!

 What would our life look like if we truly sought God’s presence in our situation? If we gave Him glory in the midst, and prayed for the prosperity of the place we’d been sent? Even if we feel it’s the wrong place…pray. Remain obedient until the time of God’s deliverance. It will come.





Beyond the Book of Ruth

blue-692467_640“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” — Ruth 1:16-17

I love The Book of Ruth. You may remember hearing the passage above, sung or spoken at weddings. Though originally spoken to a mother-in-law who had become more than an in-law, the passage is quite romantic, isn’t it?

castle-valley-500241_1280I’ve read The Book of Ruth more times than I can count, so I thought I knew the whole story. If you had asked me, I would’ve said, “The Book of Ruth is a wonderful story–a historical account of one of the four women mentioned in the lineage of King David, one of only six  women in the lineage of Jesus.

It’s short–only four chapters–so it doesn’t take long to read. Unless you like to dig. BUT, is it really just history? Is it only a romantic tale? I believe each book is included in the Bible for a reason.

Is there a reason beyond sharing the history of this woman?

When I wrote the novel, Annabelle’s Ruth, I did a little digging. I read and re-read the Biblical story until I could relate it in my own words. But after my novel was published, I was asked to tell a little about the history, so I studied it again.

I was surprised by what I saw.

Especially since I’d read it so many times. How had I missed what I found this time? If you’re familiar with the story, you know how it begins. The widows are leaving their home in Moab. Naomi persuades one daughter-in-law to return to her family, but Ruth refuses to leave. She insists on staying with the woman who has become a mother to her. The woman who’d taught her to believe in the God of the Hebrews.

barley-1117282_1280And I’m sure, you remember how Ruth went out to find work and ended up in the field of a man who was a kinsman of Naomi’s husband. His name was Boaz. He had heard of Ruth. Good things were spoken about her in Ephratah (Bethlehem)–and that was saying something. The Ephrathites could be a little judgmental about their non-Hebrew neighbors.

Boaz first drew my attention and appreciation by choosing to show kindness to this foreign woman who had shown great loyalty and love for his kinswoman. After all, she’d willingly given up the possibility of remarriage and having a family of her own, by following Naomi. That kind of thing was important in those days.

One thing I’ve learned: when you make that kind of sacrifice in life–for love and faith–God sees.

So, Boaz gave orders that his reapers drop extra barley for the woman to pick up. He ordered his men to keep their hands off her. And then he does something that pierced my heart. When he speaks to Ruth, he tells her to stay in his fields, so he can protect her. And then he invites her to partake of the water provided for his workers. I was immediately reminded of Jesus at the well in Samaria, offering living water to the woman at the well.

basket-1195754_1280Ruth 2:10-14 “Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

Ruth-like13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

But that’s not all. He invites her to dine at his table. Now I’m beginning to see a definite shadowing of a future event.

14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.”

There’s more to this story as Naomi guides her daughter-in-law through an ancient Hebrew ritual. For the conclusion of this beautiful story, click here: Ruth’s Legacy

Scriptures from the New Living Translation via biblegateway.com

Annabelle’s Ruth

GraceAwardWinnerAfter their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era story, set in western Tennessee.  How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

2015 Grace Award Winner for General Fiction/Women’s Fiction