Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. -Psalm 86:11

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Daniel's Battle for the Heart

He was a young man, probably in his mid to late teens. His parents were most likely slaughtered by the edge of Babylonian swords. His house was most likely pillaged and burned to the ground. His church was invaded and desecrated. He was taken from his homeland, given a new name, forced to learn a new language, and pressured to adopt a new religion. In one day, everything on the outside of Daniel was destroyed. His entire life changed in one awful day. But there was one aspect of Daniel's life that the Babylonians could not change. They could not change what was happening on the inside of Daniel. They could not change his heart. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself... -Daniel 1:9

There will be situations in your life that are totally out of your control. You can't control your parents' divorce situation. You can't control the sickness that may be plaguing one of your family members. You can't change the family into which you were born. Like Daniel, there are many parts of your life that you have absolutely zero control over. And yet, like Daniel, there is one part of your life that you can and must control- your own heart.

Teaching in Long Beach, California, and working with some of the teenagers there in that city, I knew teenagers who came from unspeakable home situations. I knew teenagers who lost parents because of alcohol abuse. My heart broke for teenagers in our Christian school who had serious struggles within their families. Some of these teenagers have chosen to follow God regardless of their circumstances. They realize that if they use their circumstances as an excuse to sin, they will continue the cycle of sin in their family, and their children will one day be forced to endure the same hardships that they have had to endure. Sadly, some have allowed their hearts to become hard, and have gone their own way.

While some choose, like Daniel, to keep their hearts tender before God, and others choose to harden their hearts toward God, there is a common denominator: the choice is up to each individual, and no outside circumstance can make the final decision about the condition of the heart.

If you are going through a struggle that is totally out of your control, remember Daniel, and remember the decision that he made when everything around him was falling apart. He purposed in his heart to honor God.

If you read the rest of the story, Daniel ended up living a pretty amazing life. He would have missed out on many blessings had he hardened his heart; and so will we if we lose the battle for our hearts.

1 comment:

  1. The story of Daniel being tempted while far away from home really resonates here in Cambodia. So many young people move to the big city (Phnom Penh) while in their late teens and early 20's in order to look for work to help their family in some distant province. When they arrive in the big city, Satan has so many traps laid for them. This city is filled with young people experimenting with and participating in all manner of sin and wickedness because they are finally far away from their parents. Of course, most of them are not saved, but even those who are saved often lose the battle of temptation. It truly is a matter of the heart. Any temptation can be defeated, and any difficulty can be overcome if one's heart is firmly set upon God.