|MARCH 2007||DEVOTIONAL MESSAGE||
RIGHT CHOICES OF DANIEL OVER HIS OPTIONS
We are living in a world, which offers us with very many options in every walk of our life. Options are something chosen or available as a choice. An option is the right, but not the obligation, to do something. Plenty of options are available in front of us for shopping, employment, marriage, house, place of living and in all aspects of our life. To discard all available options is also an option. William James defined, 'When you have to make a choice and you do not make it, that itself is a choice.' Also, this is an age of specialization. We are at free will to choose or select out of all available options in front of us. The standard of life of a person is deeply depended on the selections or options he/she makes in his/her life at different stages of their life. So selection is an important criterion of our life. There are many lives ruined by wrong choices and many lives prospered by right choices in life.
The Holy Bible starts with an option given to the first human beings. After the creation of man and woman, Lord God commanded them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. When the devil beguiled Eve, she could have very well deny the inducements of Satan, but she opted and exercised her freewill by refusing to accept God’s command and disobeyed Him by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The man, Adam, repeated the same option. Eventually it caused them to become apostate from the realm of grace of God and rebel against God’s crown and dignity.
In the cited scripture portion, Daniel always selected the best out of all options in front of him. So he could excel himself as faithful. The background story is well known to us. When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, he ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some youths of Israel from the noble and royal families, who are intelligent, handsome and have no defect. Daniel was one of the young Jews who were selected to be trained for service to King Nebuchadnezzar. Their food was from the table of the King and he and his friends were offered with wine so that their countenance will be brightened after three years before they will enter the personal service of the king.
Daniel had a different option of his own and was resolved not to defile himself with the choice food or with the wine or with any pleasures of Babylon and to live upon pulse and water. Daniel had many hindrances before him to go ahead with his choice. He was still firm to his character and religion. Though the Chaldeans changed his name according to their god, they could not change his character. Daniel, to satisfy the Commander that there would be no danger of any bad consequence, desires the matter might be put to a trial, which, having tried it, the master of the eunuchs allowed them to do, finding that it agreed very well with them. Daniel was a favorite with the prince of the eunuchs, as Joseph was with the keeper of the prison. Both of them opted to be away from the pleasure of life, which was freely offered to them as legal and attractive options before them. They both knew that the hope of impunity is a great support to all iniquity, and impenitency involved with it.
As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams. When Daniel heard about the fury of the King Nebuchadnezzar, against the wise men of Babylon, magicians, conjurers, sorcerers and Chaldeans as they could not make known to the King, the dream of the King and its interpretation thereof, he went to his chamber and sought counsel from his friends and prayed to God. Daniel could inform the King, both dreams and its interpretation which Chaldeans considered to be possible only by gods, whose dwelling place is not with mortal flesh. As per the right options of Daniel, the King made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Later Daniel was made a governor under Darius.
As Daniel became powerful in the land, the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs. But they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. They plotted that they can find fault against him only with regard to the law of his God. The King gave orders to cast Daniel into the lion's den. The God of Daniel sent His angel and shut the lion's mouths and they have not harmed him. Further we read that the King ordered to cast the malicious accusers of Daniel and their family to the lion's den, and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.
Daniel could make his right choices always mainly out of three value based attributes of his nature.
Eleanor Roosevelt had quoted; 'One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.' With the right choices of the options before Daniel in all stages of his life, he enjoyed success in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. There are many options in our life. Graham States chose the right option over all his family calamities. Fr. Damien chose to work among the lepers in spite the fear of infection. Mother Teresa chose the gutters of Calcutta over all luxuries she could have in her land. Sadhu Kochoonju Upadesi chose to work among the infected with Malaria. Daniel was considered noble because of right choices at right time. If we just live under our own fleshly desires and powers we will always fail. We need to exercise our freewill so that we can be vessels, which God uses.
[Extract from Message delivered at Maramon Convention 2006
Original in Malayalam : Translated by Editor Dr. Rajan Mathew Philadelphia, USA]
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