I want to start with Daniel.
I went into the next chapter of Daniel this morning for my devotions. I have to say, this has been a great experience already. I’m amazed at how Daniel handles the temperamental Nebuchadnezzar…it’s so similar to dealing with impossible people on a daily basis. I know how easy it is to get frustrated with people who, in your eyes, seem to have absolutely no common sense or dignity or emotional control. You often feel justified to be sarcastic, rude, or damaging to them. But Daniel demonstrates how we’re supposed to act when dealing with these kinds of people. First of all, we’re like this too sometimes, if not most. I know I am. Second of all, the only person whose common sense and emotional reaction you can control is your own. These things, when in the light of how God intended them to be used, point towards being overwhelmingly and controversially kind to people despite themselves. After all, that’s what God did with us, isn’t it?
In Daniel chapter four, Nebuchadnezzar has another dream. Daniel is the one to interpret it and the verdict is drawn that the king was going to go insane and think that he was an animal, all because he was so hyped up on himself and his own power. Oh boy.
King Neb: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”
This is post-prophecy/interpretation via Daniel. Here the king is looking down from the roof of his palace, admiring his kingdom, feeling pretty good about himself. But while the words are still in his mouth, God makes his dream come true.
“He (Nebuchadnezzar) was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” (4:28-33, ESV).
Wow! That’s crazy! Looking past the weirdness of the king’s transformation, this is one of many, many, examples of God’s prophecy coming true. The king had a dream; Daniel prophesied based on divine interpretation; it happened. When God says He’s going to do something, you can bet He’s going to do it; God does NOT make empty promises and He means what He says.
Don’t worry, king Neb didn’t stay this way. Eventually he was brought back to his kingdom and recovered completely, re-gaining his sanity and his rule. And after it all, this is what he had to say:
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (4:37).
After finishing my devotions, I did laundry and worked on homework. I finished my final project for Critical Thinking & Writing…now all I have to do is present it. I’m kind of nervous about it. I was originally going to write a lecture that appeared to be just like an evangelical sermon, but when I saw how it looked and imagined myself preaching, I decided not to. I know I wouldn’t do well preaching to my classmates. One of the things people can’t stand about Christians is that they “shove the gospel down people’s throats.” That’s not how God intended the message to be delivered. People are supposed to be attracted to Him through the lives of His children, through the love we exhibit, how set apart we are in our living and in our words. Also, I don’t think women should “preach” to men, which there is one guy in my class. Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Priscilla Shirer, or any of those wonderful woman speakers. But the thing is, they’re women teaching women, not women teaching men. I’m sorry but men are supposed to lead the women, not in a way that makes us appear less than them, but in a loving way. Like Christ is the head of the church, so a man is to be the head of his woman, his church family, his household. Period.
I’m not doing a lecture.
So, I had to come up with something else. One day this past week I was in the library working on a different final project when God was like, “Hunter, you need to work on your final project for Critical Thinking & Writing.” Not really knowing what I was going to write, I pulled out a piece of notebook paper and began to jot down some things. Granted, I’ve made a sort of outline before this, having some idea of what I want to do, maybe a free verse poem or a spoken word (yes, I was contemplating attempting to write a poem), but what came out onto the paper was much different from what I thought would come. A two page free verse poem was the result, and after tweaking it later on and adding on one more page, it was finished.
I remember something similar to this happened when I was trying to write my valedictorian speech. I promise, I’m not just telling this story because I was valedictorian. Just forget that part. Anyway, I was really nervous because I knew this was an opportunity for the audience to hear the word of God and to be exposed to Him. I punched out a few drafts, a couple of chicken scratch ideas, but I just couldn’t gain any momentum. I had to step back and just leave it alone, hoping that God had something up His sleeve.
Surely enough, I was working on a novel or something of the like, sitting down at the dining room table, when the Holy Spirit led me to work on my speech. When I did, it all just came out smoothly, without writer’s block, without lack of points and flow. I know, I know, it sounds like just a coincidence. But trust me, I’m not that good of a writer, not without God. Half of the things I write that are good, that people get excited about, are things that God has basically written for me. I’m just an instrument. These are small things, but when God uses them to show me He cares, He’s listening, He’s with me, they become very big things.
Writer’s Studio was my only class of the day, and we were doing a reading. A reading. Of our own work. In front of our classmates. This was nerve-wracking. Yeah, yeah, I’ve had to read essays in front of my Word, Usage, & Style classmates all semester, but this was totally different. We were reading our stories our poetry, the most intimate of our works.
I had practiced reading the first section of my revision piece; I had timed it and everything. I needed to print out the story any way, so I was just going to use my copy for the reading. I also had to print out two stories from my classmates in order for me to do line-edits, which is part of our final project for this class. My printer is almost out of black ink and, for some idiotic reason, I thought I would be able to make it until next week. Oh was I wrong. Anyway, I went to the computer lab to print off these documents. I printed them all at once, feeling pressed for time. The student at the printing desk hands the pile of paper to me and I run to the cafeteria to grab lunch. There’s about fifteen minutes until class time as I sit and sort the pages out into individual documents. That’s when I realize that my story is not in the stack. I have my classmates’ stories, but not my own. Ergo, I have nothing prepared to read for class. I frantically search through my homework folder to see if I have anything worth reading, anything not so frighteningly pathetic that I can present it as a representation of how I can write. The best thing I can find is the first marked-up draft of the first chapter of my current novel. I cringe.
God, what am I going to do? I can’t read this in class. It’s ridiculous. It won’t make any sense.
I begin searching for something else but come up with nothing.
I’m a writer for Pete’s sake; I should have something fantastically written on my person at all times.
I pulled out J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers.
Well, this is fantastically written…I wonder…
No, that doesn’t count.
I trudge up to class, knowing I’m about to humiliate myself. When I sit down, everybody is talking about how unprepared they are for this reading, how they’re all really nervous. They have no idea.
Everybody’s pieces were great. Some were clever, some were funny, most were absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, some made me squirm while others made me laugh, and some were a combination of all of these traits. Experiencing how wonderful everyone’s pieces were made me forget how embarrassed I was with my own reading. Sometimes I think I have moments like these because God knows I need to be reminded that I’m not the best writer there is. There are much more capable people who could communicate much better than I, but God is using me despite my handicap. He’s reminding me that He doesn’t call the qualified, but rather qualifies the called, and I am certainly in need of qualification.
The rest of the day was spent doing homework. While I was in my dorm, Lin was making her dinner. She offered some to me, saying it was Korean food and that I’d like it. Up for trying something new, I grabbed my chopsticks and took a bit of rice and the Korean something she was offering to me. As I put the food into my mouth she told me it was squid and onion.
I’ve never had squid before, and before coming to the city I cringed at the thought of putting the slimy tentacles into my mouth. I couldn’t even stand the thought of calamari. But let me tell you, that squid was delicious.
Later on in the evening, one of Lin’s friends, who I’ll call Fly because I’m not entirely sure how to spell her Chinese name, came in and hung out. She’s my friend too, so we had a great time. A while back at the beginning of the semester, Charlene had told me Fly was a Christian. So one day while both of us were brushing our teeth in the bathroom at the same time, I asked her if this was true. She said “yes” excitedly and we had a great conversation. God is setting Lin up to be saved. She has a Christian friend who speaks her language, and she has a Christian for her roommate: me! 😀 She’s getting God from both avenues. Isn’t it cool how He’s getting her ready for Him? I mean, I’m not sure if she’ll be saved while I’m in her life, while we’re roommates, or if she’ll be saved later on…or, you know what, there’s always that daunting possibility that she won’t ever get saved. But I have to try. I have to take the opportunities God is giving me to talk to her about Him. I don’t know what’s going to happen between her and God, but God does.
Where has the semester gone? I can’t believe next week is the last week…and God has kept His promise. He’s taken care of me this whole time, since before this time. Of course, I don’t know why I’m surprised that He kept His promise; He always keeps His promises and He’s never failed me, not once. The best part? He won’t stop keeping His promise at the end of the semester, because His love stretches from everlasting to everlasting. He’ll be with me even after college, after career, after death. He’s got me 🙂
He always has.
“Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” —Psalm 73:23-26, ESV