A bit of a ruckus in Aisle Four grabs my attention. Stacks of bright notebooks and bins of colored pens separate me from a young father trying desperately to check off the teacher’s list in his hand. A little girl circles about his knees.
Little fingers fly over items faster than he can stop them. Big strong daddy hands race, picking up dropped pencil cases, pushing back crayon boxes and replacing highlighters. Little girl chatter and a dad’s bewilderment mix with memories. They flip through my mind like the spiral pads lined up in big plastic bins.
It’s back to school days.
I whisper inside my head to the man with a glistening drop of sweat on his upper lip, a day is coming when you will no longer mark your year with school’s bookends.
She will be grown, and what will the world be like then, I wondered?
Recently I’ve been reminded by an older student, that there is an academic culture into which God fearing young people step and then wonder if there is a place in that sector to place their foot. Privy of conventional wisdom and morality, basic foundations have shifted. Departments are often riddled with disdain for Christianity and academics ridicule Biblical foundation.
Is it possible to live faithfully surrounded by pagan life and propaganda?
The stories of four young men, in their teens or perhaps early 20’s, ripped from their homes, carried off as war trophies into a godless environment testify to God’s faithfulness regardless of location, station or influence.
Daniel, taken with his three friends from Judah’s nobility became exiles in the Babylonian court. Taught literature, language, and educated in the country’s culture, they were completely immersed in paganism.
Those four young people, vulnerable, alone, and completely surrounded by pagan worship testify to us today that God is able to keep our children and grandchildren from defilement.
King Nebuchadnezzar’s goal would assimilate these handsome, skillful, knowledgeable, learned and competent young men thoroughly into Babylonian life.Babylonian gods.
Daniel, “God is my Judge,” became Belteshazzar, “Bel protects his life.”
Hananiah, “Yahweh is gracious” changed to Shadrach, “command of Aku” (the moon god).
Mishael, “who is what God is?” flipped to Meshach, “Who is like Aku?”
Azariah, “Yahweh is a helper” became Abednego “servant of Nebo.”
Some of you parents have left a scared first grader, some will chafe through high school drama and others have settled children into college. You wonder, like we all did, will they emerge strong in faith?
Four very young men a long time ago, ripped from everything they knew and had been taught, completely immersed in pagan influence chose to stand firm with the help of One True God. And they did.
I think of this as my grandchildren prepare for a new school year. I remember it as I observe one man overwhelmed with his little girl and long teacher’s list in aisle four. I begin to understand how it feels to sit very much alone in the classroom of higher education from the stories of those students.
Regardless of what challenges “back to school” represent for you, God is able. He is in the classroom, dorm room, and even on the football field. He is enough for the teacher, parent, and the student. Yet, as members of the body of Christ who have been there, done that, our work isn’t over.
Daniel and his friends remind us He is able to take what is meant to destroy His kingdom and instead use it to build where it isn’t yet.
It’s possible to remain true to the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it feels as if the entire world is against all for which He gave His life.
“And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” Daniel 1:20 ESV
It’s possible to remain true to the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it feels as if the entire world is against all for which He gave His life
Aisle Four’s ruckus gains momentum as it moves to the backpacks. I take a moment to pray for the man and little girl. I can’t help but smile a bit at the anticipation and excitement, but mostly because it reminds me, God is faithful.