This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “determine.”
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
I’m sure this is a lesson that has been highlighted for many of us over the last two years. It feels strange now to think back to the plans I had at the start of 2020 – plans for trips, for ministry, for writing… none of which have worked out as I had hoped. And I know it has been similar for almost everyone in the world.
We’re really not in control as much as we might like to think we are.
But one thing we do have control of is our decision about how to respond when our plans go wrong. Do we sulk? Do we give in to despair? Do we put on a smile and pretend we’re fine? Or is there a different way?
I’m sure it wasn’t part of Daniel’s plan to be exiled to Babylon – to be captured and take 900 miles away from home to a place with different food, a different language, a different culture, and different gods. And yet Daniel didn’t sulk, or give into despair, or pretend it was all fine. He made a decision.
“Daniel was determined not to defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8 NLT)
He made that decision right at the start of his time in Babylon, and that determined his future there. Through the reigns of several different kings, various trials and times where hard decisions were necessary, Daniel was faithful. Despite coming as a captive, Daniel succeeded in Babylon because he focused on honouring God and doing the best he could in the circumstances he faced.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Our situations will be different from Daniel’s, but when life doesn’t go according to our plans, we have a choice. Do we fight against it, or do we embrace God’s plan, trusting that he is with us, he cares, and he will help us through? Do we determine to remain faithful as Daniel did?
It’s not an easy choice, and it takes commitment and determination, but I want to follow Daniel’s example.