I stepped off the bus at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary on my way into school. As I walked alongside the bus, someone still on the bus started shouting less than kind words at me. Fixing my eyes on them, I gave them the fiercest look I could muster and then walked right into a brick column. (You are free to laugh.)
The morning I face-planted into that brick column, I was eight or nine years old. This year I will turn 54. Any physical pain has long since gone away. Yet this is one of my most vivid memories from those elementary school years. Something about being made fun of, trying to be tough, and then walking into the column, well, it did not measure up with my image of what I should be.
FEAR OF BEING FOUND WANTING
One of life’s biggest fears is that people will discover how little we have our lives figured out and put together. So we often make decisions or say things all to protect people from discovering the “truth we know about ourselves.” We put on mask after mask, so people do not see our struggles. Our biggest fear is that if they knew, truly knew who I am, what I am dealing with, they might not like what they see.
If we are not careful, people might realize we are seconds away from walking into a brick column.
The fear of being found wanting makes for great drama. You can see it so clearly in these two scenes from A Knight’s Tale.
In Daniel chapter 5, drama with a similar theme unfolds. Daniel, a young Israelite, finds himself a servant in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. On a couple of occasions, Daniel has interpreted dreams for the king. There is a great banquet, and during the celebration, a hand appears and mysteriously writes upon the wall.
MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN
Daniel is called in to provide an interpretation.
Mene, God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel, You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Parsin, Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Shortly after Daniel provides an interpretation, the reign of Nebuchadnezzar comes to an end.
HOW SHOULD WE LIVE?
The fear of being “weighed on the scales and found wanting” is a feeling many of us know all too well.
Even as people speak words of hope, life, encouragement into our being, we wonder. Can they possibly be seeing us correctly? If they truly knew me, would they think the same?
How are we to find peace? Maybe if we could begin to live believing these truths…
- I am the person God has created me to be. The struggles, foibles, challenges that I see in myself are opportunities for the Spirit to grow and strengthen me. The world needs my experiences (read struggles and failures) to help someone else on their journey.
- The Spirit’s work is not complete. I am growing, learning, maturing. The lessons I learned yesterday made me stronger today. There will be growth opportunities today, tomorrow, and well into the future. I will always see growth opportunities. What am I going to do with them?
- Today is another opportunity to exceed expectations! Sure, some people may have “weighed me on their scales and found me wanting, “…that does not make them correct. Today I will use the gifts the Spirit has given me to bless others and reverse those scales.
Finally, I will learn the lesson of Daniel (Daniel from the Bible).
King Nebuchadnezzar was self-focused and cared not how God spoke in his life and world.
On the other hand, Daniel was consistently discerning the Spirit’s invitation for his life. He ended up in some pretty crazy situations. Daniel trusted that Abba Father would guide his thinking, provide wisdom, and strength each time. Daniel knew that he came up short when judged on the world’s scales. He was not concerned with what those around him thought. Walking into a brick column or a lion’s den was not an issue because he trusted God to remain faithful and care for him.
May we all have the spirit of Daniel.
If you have not read the book of Daniel lately, it is relatively short and very helpful as we think about living each day discerning the Spirit’s invitations.
What (or whose) “scales” get your extra attention?
How do you keep people from seeing the real you? What could happen (good & bad) if you were honest and let people see the true you?
What lessons have you learned while walking difficult experiences? How might sharing your journey help others who are walking a similar path?
In what area do you need to focus closer on the Spirit’s direction?