Sometimes, just when I feel like I’m ruining my daughter because of how we’re raising her, God leads me to a memory or a journal entry where I’ve recorded His faithfulness. He really does lead us as we parent our Cami Girl.
We don’t take Cami to church. (More on the whys in another post.) Even though we’ve arrived at this decision after much prayer and godly counsel, it still feels weird. Most days, it concerns me. Sometimes I feel panicked about it. It’s always on my mind.
Yesterday, I laid my concerns at the foot of the Cross—again. God comforted me with a memory from two years ago, a memory of how faithful He is to shepherd us—all of us—and how He delights to show us how He alone draws our hearts to Him.
I’m reading my daily scripture passages on one living-room couch while Cami reads her fresh-from-the-mailbox recent issue of her kids’ magazine on the other living-room couch. (We’re not big believers in chairs. We like to sit together.)
I am enjoying the discoveries in a Bible story I thought I knew. It’s a fresh breath after Jeremiah 19 and 20, passages which outline God’s planned destruction for His people and have Jeremiah and Baruch in hiding. The next stop in the NLT Chronological Bible is the book of Daniel. I can’t help but think of Veggie Tales and the chocolate bunny statue that I know is coming.
That’s not the part that grabs me. It’s this part:
The king ordered Ashpenaz, who was in charge of the palace officials, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. . .”Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good sense, and have the poise needed to serve in the royal palace. Teach these young men the language and literature of the Babylonians. “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief official renamed them with these Babylonian names: (Are you ready?)
- Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
- Hananiah was called Shadrach.
- Mishael was called Meshach.
- Azariah was called Abednego. (Daniel 1:3-4, 6-7)
I didn’t know that.
We remember Daniel by his Hebrew name. But we remember the other three young men–the three who eventually confound the king by way of a fiery furnace–by their Babylonian names, their re-named names, their captivity names.
Why is that?
The living room is quiet with discovery.
I keep reading. At the top of the next page, I encounter those Hebrew names again. I try them out aloud: “Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.”
From the other couch, I hear a sweet voice say, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.”
I can’t catch my breath.
“Cami, how do you know that?”
“How did you know what I was reading?”
“Those are the original names for them, the names they were born with.” She looks like she thinks she might be in trouble.
I am just so amazed at the whole exchange, my tone of voice is louder than normal. “Who taught you their original names though?”
“Oh.” Like Whewy. I’m not in trouble. “Mr. Ben told us. At church.”
“Oh–a few weeks ago when he told us that story.”
Now, here in my living room, God speaks not only to the “What will it be like for her to ‘promote’ to the third grade Sunday school class?” angst I have, but also to the “Am I ruining her with the way we do homeschool?” angst that I hide inside.
Mr. Ben, the gentleman that tells the Bible stories that include Hebrew names changed to Babylonian names? He is the third-grade Sunday school teacher, the teacher Cami will have after Promotion Sunday.
There’s more in this day’s reading for me. It all has to do with diets and differing opinions of what’s healthy and how one should live to the fullest:
“Test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s rich food. Then you can decide whether or not to let us continue eating our diet.” So the attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the rich foods and wines. God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for learning the literature and science of the time. And God gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and dreams.
When the three-year training period ordered by the king was completed, the chief official brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with each of them, and none of them impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they were appointed to his regular staff of advisers. In all matters requiring wisdom and balanced judgment, the king found the advice of these young men to be ten times better than that of all the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom. (Daniel 1:12- 20)
I hear an application for me that echoes back to verses in Jeremiah’s story:
For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods – idols never before worshiped by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! (Jeremiah 19:4-5)
Do what He commands, the “Do this, and do it this way,” nothing extra, adding our own embellishments. That is obedience. Obedience leads us into living the way He designed us to live: with health and vigor, in fullness of life, walking in rightness.
Think of it! God designed this captivity Daniel and his friends were in. Yet, in their captivity, He gave them “unusual aptitude” and “special ability” for His purposes. They stuck out of the crowd. Even as they were renamed to fit the culture, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah walked as God had made them: Hebrew diet, Hebrew God. They knew who they were—and, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading, Whose they were—and they lived that way.
In my daily foray into God’s Word, He gives me personal nuggets: applications, promises, prayers to pray back to Him. The one for how I parent Cami comes from Psalm 33:15: He made her heart, so He understands everything she does. When she baffles me–which is often–I remind God, “Lord, You made this child. . .show me what she needs. What do I do? What do I say?”
He’s done that on this day, through three Hebrew names spoken aloud in my living room.
Everything He does is worthy of our trust!
Oh, to trust Him more and more,