Daniel 1 details a wonderful story of 4 very strong and dedicated teenage boys. These teen's were in their early teens, but according to their culture were considered men. There was evil in Jerusalem. For many years it had been ruled by kings who were wicked and God handed Jerusalem over to the king of Babylon. 2 Kings 24:14 says that, "He(King Nebuchadnezzar) carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans-a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left." "Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. (Daniel 1:6)
After arriving in Babylon the young men were gradually stripped of their Jewish heritage. First they received new Babylonian names, and then they were to eat the Babylonian food. Daniel and his friends, I'm sure, were not happy with their new names, after all they were much harder to pronounce, but they could live with it. But when the new menu was set before them they knew they couldn't defy themselves. It would go against everything they had been taught. The Mosaic Law was very clear about eating unclean foods; "Don't do it"! In Daniels mind, there was no choice; he could not eat the Babylonian food. His friends agreed with him and together the 4 of them rebelled, respectfully of course, against eating the fine foods of the Babylonians. They knew that their God was bigger than even the mighty Babylonians. They had a very healthy fear of their God.
They stood before the overseer of the court of officials and asked permission to not defile themselves. The God they so strongly believed in softened the heart of the officials. This Daniel was a very wise man. He made a bargain with the official. Is that not like the typical man? Daniel tells the official "Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see."(Daniel 1:12,13) It worked! They got what they wanted. Even better, the whole plan worked. They were able to show that their simple diet of vegetables and water made them stronger than the others who ate the food of the Babylonians. Then the official removed all of the junk food and they all ate the healthy food. After all, the King didn't need fat, lazy Jewish men in his court. They were no good to him like that.
Because Daniel remained faithful to his God, did not conform to the pagan culture, and took a stand against that which he knew was wrong he was blessed over & over for the rest of his life. Read about his life in the book of Daniel. It is fantastic. I didn't say it was easy, but it was blessed.
As a mom, I have to wonder what kind of mom Daniel had. Did she know that she had raised a young man who was so strong in his convictions? Did she know that her son was capable of making such a difficult, yet brave move against his enemies? Did his father know that he had prepared his son to lead others in truth and conviction? How did he teach his son to not follow others, but to lead even if you are standing alone? As far as we know Daniel never saw his parents again. They may have never known what a mighty man of God their son became. What do you want to bet Daniel would be called "strong willed" in today's times?
After reading the story of Daniel in the first chapter to my children one morning I wondered to myself if they would be able to make the bold stand that Daniel & his friends did? Am I equipping them to stand for what they know is right no matter what the costs? If given the choice would they gobble up the kings' food or would they ask for a diet of clean foods? Am I raising my sons to be leaders or followers? Their dad plays the major role in teaching them to be men, but I still have a role as I am with them more than their dad, especially while they are young.
When you throw seeds in a pot of dirt you hope that what comes up is what is on the package. You have an idea of what to expect, but is that really what will grow out of the dirt? You water it, watch for bugs, and shield it from too much sun. You nurture & care for it and before you know it up pops a little green shoot. As it grows it looks like what you expected & you are feeling quite successful as a gardener. Then it blooms. It doesn't quite look like what you thought it would. What do you do? You keep nurturing your plant and you wait and trust the direction on the package.
This is how I see my boys(& girls). I have these ideas of how they should turn out and some of my ideas are just not panning out. I'm getting worried. I don't want to raise jail bait. I want to raise future men of God who will make an impact on others. God reminds me, just as I am sure he reminded Daniels mother to trust him and continue to raise them according to his scriptures. Teach his laws and promises to them. Believe and live according to them myself. Teach them to guard their heart, to capture every thought that could lead them into foolishness and that whatever they do, do it as unto the Lord. Talk to them about what we believe and why, and then expect them to live this way because it pleases the Lord and no other.
This is not what our society teaches at all. The Christian is expected by God to live to please his God and in return receive blessings untold. Society expects us to live for ourselves and do whatever pleases us. I don't know if I am raising modern day Daniels, but I'm trying. I see a passion in the eyes of my sons that I pray constantly will grow into a passion for their Lord. I see a zest for life that I pray will grow into a zest for Christ and I recognize their natural God given hunger for adventure that could bring them to the point of history changing adventures.
I pray that even though my sons must live in this world, they will not be conformed by the world. I pray that they will guard his heart, resist the temptation to conform, and learn to love his God with his whole heart, mind and strength. It is all up to God.