One of the things that I like about our calendar system is that every 24 hours we get a brand new day that affords us the opportunity of a fresh start. Here we are in 2011. 2010 is forever gone with all of its failures and successes. When the Apostle Paul told the church at Philippi that he was, “Forgetting those things that are behind,” he was not just referring to the bad times. People who live in the past tend to lose focus on the purpose that God has for them today.
I like to think of 2011 as a stack of 365 sheets of clean, crisp, unused paper that waits on the pen of the author to write a story that will reach the hearts of its readers. Or maybe it is a white canvas that awaits the brush of the painter to transform it into a mountain scene that will inspire awe in those who view it.
There are some things that come our way that we have no control over whatsoever. Sometimes life doesn’t fit into our month-at-a-glance plans. Have you ever been traveling on a road that is taking you exactly where you plan to go, and all of the sudden you find yourself faced with a detour? The detour takes you down roads that were not in your plans. Life is like that sometimes. We find ourselves traveling roads we never intended to travel and facing situations we never dreamed we would face.
How we face the difficulties and challenges that come our way in 2011, and whether we get back on track after the detour, will depend a great deal on what kind of spirit we have. Our spirit evidences itself in our attitude. The Bible speaks of a contrite spirit, a right spirit, a broken spirit, a wounded spirit, a faithful spirit, a hasty spirit, an overwhelmed spirit, a failing spirit, a haughty spirit, a humble spirit, and many more. One thing is for sure, we will not accomplish much for the Lord in 2011 if we try to operate with a spirit that is displeasing to Him. We may survive but we will not thrive.
That brings me to the reason for this article: Daniel. God burned his example into my heart during the first few days of this New Year. Here was a young man that was listed among Israel’s finest. He was intellectually brilliant, and would be considered “at the top of his class” in every aspect. He had everything to live for. His future was before him! Then came the detour—Babylon! His plans were trashed, he was taken from his home and carried into a strange land to become the servant of a strange king who worshiped strange gods. As a slave in the service of the palace, he was surgically castrated so as to allow him to work around the women without fear of improper advances.
What had he done to deserve this? If there ever was a young man in the Bible who had a right to be bitter at the turn of life, it would be Daniel. Others would have pointed fingers at everyone around them—maybe even at God—but not Daniel. I stand in awe every time I read that Daniel had an “excellent spirit.” When he was promoted to a position of power, he could have had his revenge on anyone who had wronged him. A pound of flesh and a pint of blood was his for the asking, but he lived his life for the glory of God.
I must admit that I have not always had an excellent spirit when dealing with those who have wronged me, or when dealing with situations in life that did not go as I hoped they would. I am not a big fan of detours. Sometimes I am content to “just get through it,” but God wants so much more than just my survival. He wants me to face the challenges in a manner that will glorify Him. My heart’s desire is that God will give me the grace in 2011 to have what Daniel had—an excellent spirit in all that I do.
“Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” Daniel 6:3