"Don't be afraid," he said, "For you are very precious to God. Peace! Ne encouraged! Be strong!" As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, "Please speak to me, my Lord, for you have strengthened me." Daniel 10:19 (NLV)
One 16 year old girl has been my inspiration to show strength and courage over the past two weeks. She has stood up for what she has believed in, being an even louder voice in a loud crowd. She has spoken in front of the UK Government and the United Nations. And when people have said, "You're too young" or "You're voice won't be heard", she has proved her critics wrong. If you guessed correctly, I'm talking about the Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg. If you've never heard of her, you really need to check her out. The first time I watched one of her lectures, I was blown away with her resilience. I constantly wish that I can show a strength like hers in what I believe in; God.
She is an ordinary radical.
Each day, every one us has choices to make when we wake up. The option that most of us take, often unconsciously, is to continue with the status quo, grinding it out in the way expected to us by family, friends and colleagues. Over the past few days, I have found this pretty hard, to be perfectly honest. This week I have got BUCS Regatta, the biggest university rowing regatta in the world. But leading to this, requires a large amount of training and a unchanging routine. Get up, row, work, row, sleep, press stop and then repeat. I'm sure for a number of you, you have a constantly repeating timetable that you wish for one day you could break free from – a timetable that usually leaves you frustrated or down approaching the weekend. But do you ever get the feeling you were made for more than going through the motions on autopilot? Is there something missing from your day-to-day life?
Hold up! There's another way. The way of the ordinary radical. Ordinary radicals are around us every day, but they often go unnoticed. They tend to go under the radar and that's the way they like it. Ordinary radicals seize each day as an opportunity. "Do small things with great love" as Mother Teresa once said. They don't need huge amount of money, loads of spare time, tons of resources and energy to make a difference. They're like you and me – full-time jobs, bills to pay, to do lists to complete. But these ordinary radicals, as Shane Claiborne once explained, are set apart by their ability to see and understand the opportunities presented to them every day to bless those around them, to speak up for the voiceless and to comfort the hurting. These people are rarely thanked, applauded or shown in the media. One of my favourite books, and minor prophets, in the Bible is Daniel. I would describe him as an ordinary radical who didn't bow down and worship an oppressive dictator but instead stayed true to his God even if it meant being thrown into a den of lions.
Closing a Lion's Mouth
The Bible story of Daniel teaches us about the promises God has for us all but, in turn, talks about Daniel's refusal to bow down to man and instead persist in something he believed in. If you've never heard the story, go and read it, but I'll break it down so you have an idea of what's happening…
King Darius was the ruler of Babylon at the time and had appointed several men to help him govern his land. Daniel was one of these, the lead advisor, who believed in God and followed the Lord's commands, But the other men didn't like him one bit and didn't want him in charge so they hatched a plan to get rid of Daniel. These men knew that Daniel believed in the God of Israel, in a society that didn't. A bit like today. They convinced the king to make a new law that meant that the people could only worship and pray to the king and if they worshipped and prayed to anything else, they would be thrown in the lion's den. The lions would eat the one that broke this law. Daniel knew this law but committed to remain strong in his prayer and praise to God. He prayed in front of his open window three times a day. When the men saw Daniel praying, they brought what they had seen to the king. King Darius was devastated. He highly favoured Daniel. But he knew he couldn't change that law and Daniel was thrown into the lion's den.
To cut a long story short, God sent an angel who kept the lion's mouths shut, leaving Daniel unharmed because he trusted God. This showed the king and the people that God is real. The king then threw the accusers in to the den, a pretty gruesome end. If you think about it, Daniel was just an ordinary guy who persisted with courage for the God he believed in. He didn't need to be famous to live life differently. An ordinary radical.
Today and tomorrow, you have a choice: Will I take the everyday opportunities I am given to live my life as an ordinary radical? What will you choose?
Don't Fear ,Only Believe
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