How to behave in a cave: Daniel
By Al Earley
At my church I built a cave in one of the rooms. Using huge sheets of black plastic, I was able to make the cave pitch black. I wanted to teach the children how to trust God with everything. I challenged the children to sit in the pitch black cave without making any sounds or moving. We turned out all the lights to see how long we could sit in the dark. Someone made an obscene body sound and the silence was quickly broken in about 15 seconds. We were learning how to behave in a cave!
This week begins a summer series about amazing cave stories in the Bible. When you find yourself in a cave you may also find your faith is being challenged. This is what Daniel found while serving as King Darius’ most trusted advisor (Daniel 6). Some other advisors who were jealous of Daniel tricked King Darius into writing a law that no one could pray to any other god or human except King Darius. King Darius fell for their evil plot and Daniel was soon arrested and thrown into the lion’s den. King Darius fasted all night hoping that God would save Daniel.
When morning came the king ran to the cave and cried out in anguish whether Daniel had survived. We read in Daniel 6:22, “Daniel answered, ‘My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.’” Daniel trusted his life to God and God saved him.
Learning to trust God is not an easy journey of faith but learning to trust God is important to God. So, God usually starts us on this journey with easier tests of faith. As we pass each test God gives us new tests to challenge us to trust Him even more. The children in the opening illustration were very uncomfortable the first few nights. Many were afraid of the dark, and none of them had much experience with pitch black darkness. We started praying for God to take away fears, and let the children come to love the quiet solitude of our cave. On the fifth night we sat in total silence for over three minutes, and I had to end our time of silence because it was time to move to the next teaching exercise. I was so proud of the children as they learned to trust God to take away their fears. One of the first tests God often gives us to teach us to trust Him is to obediently tithe back to God 10% of all that He has given us. I read Keri’s story in Reader’s Digest (Extraordinary Stories That Show the Power of Trust | Reader’s Digest). She writes, “When we first became Christians my husband and I kept hearing about tithing. At the time, we were living paycheck to paycheck, just barely getting by. We were donating about $20 a week which felt like a huge sacrifice at the time. But we kept reading the message in the Bible, Malachi 3:10, and decided to just trust God that if we were obedient He would take care of us. It was a huge leap of faith but we started giving at least 10 percent of our income in tithes. Sure enough, not only could we get by but our financial circumstances kept getting better and better. We’ve been tithing ever since and never looked back!”
I like Keri’s story because she says what all tithers say, that once they started tithing, and experienced God blessing their money, they never stopped. It is something all tithers experience.
Why do we struggle to trust God? We read stories like “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” and we see how his trust in God was rewarded. Yet, we have trouble trusting in anyone but ourselves. We deceive ourselves into thinking we are the best one to protect and take care of ourselves. This may prove to be true until a serious illness, life crisis, or death occurs. We cannot control any of these things, but God can control how they affect our lives. Like the children in the cave found out, it takes practice and prayer to learn to trust God more and more in our lives.
Do you think you trust God? Do you trust God with everything? In what areas of life is it hardest to trust God? Do you tithe? How is God challenging you to learn to trust Him more?
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.