Sometimes it is hard to resist a dare.
A dare asks for courage in a way that challenges us to follow through. If the first dare is not enough we may even get a double dare or the powerful double dog dare; almost impossible to resist. I have been dared to do many things in my life and I resisted most (sadly, not all) of the foolish ones. But I often let fear keep me from doing some of the fun dares, the ones that would have loosened me up a bit; I can get a bit uptight about what others think of me. Sometimes a dare was just what I needed to let some of that go. Sometimes a dare has even allowed me to step out and let my personality shine.
The truth is sometimes we need to be dared to step out of a place of fear.
We are living in a time where, as followers of Jesus, we will all need to be courageous. We will need to be less uptight about what others think and have courage to live our faith out loud. So since there is power in a dare I have decided to dare you with a one I was recently given. This dare came as I was spending time in a new practice I am developing called “listening prayer”. I was troubled by so much I was seeing on the news and throughout media so I asked God a question about how we should live in times such as these. When I stopped to listen He brought back to mind a song I had not sung since childhood. With these lyrics I felt God daring me to live in a much more daring way in the tumultuous days ahead. The lyrics are:
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.
I have always admired Daniel and the amazing courage he displayed. Though I have spent much time studying his Old Testament book in order to gain a perspective of God’s unique ways of communication and have sought to understand the prophesies revealed there, it seems that God is pointing me back to Daniel’s life as an example of how to live courageously in these unsettling days. Can I really be brave enough to live much like the prophet Daniel did? Can you?
Will we dare to be a Daniel?
Daniel found himself living in a land that no longer held the convictions of the faith he had grown up with. He lived his life under the rule of several egocentric leaders and was surrounded by people deep in idolatry. I definitely see a connection there; it appears that today we live in conditions much like these. So, what fearless choices did Daniel make that are necessary for all of us today?
First, I see that Daniel dared to stand alone.
But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. Daniel 1:8
He made up his mind that, no matter how many others were involved, God’s ways are right and good and he would obey them to the fullest. I am sure the pressure to compromise was great; the pressure to follow the crowd and be accepted has always been powerful. So where did this courage come from? The only way I see that Daniel was able to stand alone and not follow the crowd is found in the words “was determined”. It was before his captivity that Daniel had determined where he would draw the line and had become completely sure of his conviction to obey God. When the moment came to decide between God and the new pleasures offered to him, Daniel had a preordained position to stand on.
We can also dare to stand alone.
This reminds me of another song I have sung many times that says: “though no one join me still I will follow”. The only way to have the courage like Daniel to stand alone is to make sure that our convictions are also predetermined. We must decide to obey God before the circumstances make it hard. Only then will we find the courage needed in the midst of the immense pressure to compromise.
Next, Daniel dared to understood his purpose.
God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. Daniel 1:17
While all four men had been given “an aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom”, it seems only Daniel was given the specific gift of dream/vision interpretation. God had a kingdom advancing purpose and direction for Daniel’s life and gave him this gift to get him there. As Daniel dared to understand and use his gifts he was choosing to live a courage-filled life of purpose.
We also can dare to understand our purpose .
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. Romans 12:6a
Like Daniel, our God-given purpose will advance God’s kingdom on this earth and just like in Daniel’s case our purpose is linked to our spiritual gifts. As I have discovered the specific gifts God has given me I have been better able to understand the purposes He has for me. In order to do those things well I must continue to practice them by faith like Daniel did. We must understand that all spiritual gifts require dependence on God to develop them. Daniel knew that he must make sure others understood where the source of his gift came from.
Daniel answered before the king and said, “As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare it to the king.“However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries… Daniel 2:27-28a
I have often connected with Daniel because I also have been given the gift of interpretation of dreams/visions. I have had to learn and continue to learn complete reliance on God in the understanding and use of this gift. I understand that the proper use of any spiritual gift needs a deep connection with the Giver. God has helped me as I continue to understand and develop this gift along with my gifts of prophesy and exhortation. We, as followers of Jesus, all have one or more specific gifts but we must not leave them wrapped in fear and/or misuse. Daniel stayed close to God and obeyed Him in the use of his gift and through it carried out his purpose. Our purpose is tied into our spiritual gifts and the more they are implemented the more our purpose will be revealed; the more God will use us for His glory. (A great place to find out more about spiritual gifts is to click on this link.)
Then Daniel dared to make his purpose known
Once we understand our gifts we must let them show in our daily lives; I have found that this requires courage also. Daniel did not seem to shy away from letting people know about his gift of dream interpretation even though he may have had real reason to do so. I can’t help but wonder how the other Israelites thought of Daniel being associated with the ungodly astrologers and “wise men” of Babylon. Did it affect his reputation among his own people? One thing the Bible does show us is that this association almost got him killed.
The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. Daniel 2:12
It was under this threat of death Daniel dared to make known his gift so he could help save lives and even help Nebuchadnezzar, a much feared ruler. Daniel did not see this ability as something to fear or something too weird to use. Somehow Daniel had grasped the importance and uniqueness of this gift God had granted. Daniel chose not to bury his talent; neither did he hide it under a bushel. Daniel determined to be used by God with every gift he had been given. No matter how strange it may have seemed, Daniel dared to make his purpose known.
We must also dare to make our purpose known.
Often I have let fear get in the way of using my gifts to serve others and by them carry out my purpose. Not everyone accepts a word of exhortation well and some feel very weird about getting a prophetic word so I have sometimes sadly held back from letting the Holy Spirit use me; I want to change that. I must, like Daniel, continue to obey God and be used for His glory with understanding of the constant protection of God.
Daniel knew that God reigns and was willing to go to the lion’s den if that was where obedience to God’s call led him.
Am I willing to do the same? Are you?
This dare was to me a renewed call to not be held back by fear; fear is a tool of the enemy to stop my purpose and the purposes of all Christ’s followers from being achieved. Each of us will be tempted to hold back our gifts and purposes. Our enemy, the devil, knows the power of God behind them and does not want them to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. That is exactly why we must be determined to be a Daniel and obey God in the use our gifts and purposes. We must all have the courage of Daniel who chose to live a daring life. I’ve been dared to do that. Now I dare you!
In fact I double dog dare you!