I love stories. Although I have to admit I was well into adulthood before I realized they could be anything more than just that, stories. So although I learned lots of stories in Sunday School it has only been as an adult that I understood why those stories were important to my life. That I could apply the principles and lessons from those stories to my life.
Today I am thinking of the story of Daniel. No not that one. Not the one with the Lion and the den. The other one. The one with where he becomes a vegetarian.
Daniel and his friends, who we might note were part of the royal family, are captured when Babylon takes over Judah. The king of Babylon decides that these royal kids will make excellent servants in his courts. I suppose he reasons that they are already more refined and educated and therefore easier to train for a royal position. So he sends them to 3 years of school to learn the Babylonian way of serving a king, and I suppose trains them to realize they will be serving not being served as they likely had become accustom.
So Daniel and his friends are captured and while being a slave isn’t ideal they did end up with a pretty good gig considering the options. And they were submitting to this new authority in their lives. But they still wanted to honor and submit to God’s authority if possible. So when they were offered food off the king’s table, perfectly good and tasty food, they requested a slight modification. Could they skip the unclean meat and drink and just take the clean veggies?
God caused the people who were responsible for their care to be open to the suggestion but they were worried about their jobs if Daniel and his friends weren’t as healthy as the others. So Daniel proposed they just try it for 10 days and see what happens. They wanted to be faithful to God by eating only clean food and God was faithful to them by providing care givers who were willing to give them only veggies. God also saw to it that they remained healthy, healthier in fact than those who ate from the king’s table.
As a homemaker this story would have been all about the food for me. A conviction to eat the foods God created for us. And some days that is still my take away from this story. But today, as a working mom, I see it more as a lesson in staying obedient to God while submitting to authority over us.
As an employee we are responsible to do what we are asked to do by our supervisors. We need to be willing to follow instruction even when we don’t want to. We aren’t slaves but we still have to submit to authorities over us. But does that mean doing something against God’s rules? The answer is obviously no. What strikes me in this story isn’t that Daniel and his friends refused to eat the unclean food. It is actually that they requested not to eat it, they proposed a test, they did not dismiss the concerns of those above them. They worked together to find a solution that benefitted them all and as a result were able to both follow God’s rules for food and be an example of faith to those around them.
Request: Daniel didn’t just go in there, announce he wasn’t going to eat the King’s food and demand a special kosher diet be prepared for them. Once he had decided not to defile himself with the King’s food “he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” How we ask for something makes a difference. Daniel asked permission. Creating a situation where they can work together and the official can maintain their authority. Don’t go rushing into a situation guns blazing, ask first. You might be surprised by the answer.
Propose: The official admitted to Daniel that he was afraid of the king and didn’t want to get in trouble if they looked sickly while the others who ate the king’s food were healthy. It would be easy to roll your eyes and act superior at your knowledge that God’s food is healthier than the king’s food. But Daniel did not dismiss the concerns of the official, he worked with him. Daniel proposed a test, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” When we are proposing a new idea or asking for special treatment be sure to help your supervisor feel like they will not get in trouble or have additional work as a result of your special request. Offer a trial, offer to take on the additional work yourself, be sure that what you are asking will reflect well on your boss not poorly. Continue to allow them to have authority over the situation. After the 10 day test Daniel and his friends actually looked better than the others which in turn made the official over them look better too.
When you are asked to do something that goes against your beliefs how do you respond? Do you push, do you give up or do you respond with faith like Daniel?