Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)
TITLE: Persian Retreat Center & Cat Spa
By Benjamin Stephens
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“That, my lowly subject is not likely,” King Darius stifled a yawn. “I suppose you are playing the role of tale bearer today or is it rat catcher - perhaps both.”
“Yes, my liege,” the man gushed then, faltered at the king’s assessment of his character. “If you will recall, you signed a law that said no man could pray to anyone or anything but your Majesty.”
“Yes, yes, and if they do they become a mid afternoon snack for the royal felines.” The King recited the intent of the law as he watched the gleaming eyes of his guest, “So, my little oily worm, are you here to tell me that someone disobeyed my edict?”
“Oh, yes, your Majesty, sadly this has happened. The law clearly states…”
“I know what the law states! I placed my royal seal on the document. I really don’t need a Persian law lesson from you” the King bellowed as he struck the ground with his royal scepter. When he had calmed sufficiently and wearied of the constant wringing of the miserable wretches hands he continued, “So tell me, who is this violator?”
“Who indeed, your Majesty,” the man actually giggled. “It is Daniel, a refugee from Judah. He has continued his daily habit of praying to his God. He does so three times each day- three times! I have seen it with my own eyes. There are witnesses - they wait in the outer court.” The man continued in a voice that wavered somewhere between a snivel and a screech with just a hint of maddening lust for blood he refused to shed on his own.
“To someone other than your Majesty, yes.”
“Was your father a parrot?”
“But what about Daniel?”
* * * * *
“Do you understand what you are accused of?” The King asked, a certain tension playing across his features.
“I could no more reject my God than you could stop breathing and remain alive, King Darius.” Daniel replied.
“You know what I must do?”
“To do less would violate the law of the Medes and Persians.”
“What defense can you offer?”
Daniel remained quiet.
“May your God rescue you, my friend,” Darius said as the soldiers led Daniel to the den of lions.
As he landed with a thud in the darkness, a guttural snarl alerted him to the presence of lions curious about the new food dropped from above. They sniffed the air and circled the man. At the direction of one unseen they found a place to rest and left Daniel alone.
In that moment he was no longer under the scrutiny of critics nor did he have the responsibility of advisor. He could simply rest with the lions and commune unhindered with his God - it was more than enough.
Muffled voices wakened Daniel from his unexpected reprieve from life as he knew it. “Hurry up! I need to know. Daniel! Was your God, the one you always worship, able to save you?”
“He was more than able my King. Angels came and shut the mouths of the lions and they did not harm me in any way. Nor have I harmed you, your Majesty.”
In the midst of his joy, King Darius had a rope lowered and Daniel was raised into the sunlight.
“As is the Persian custom, the punishment that was determined for you will be passed on to those who conspired against you, Daniel. Bring them here,” King Darius called to his soldiers.
As the lions had their way with the accusers of an innocent man, King Darius sent a message throughout the realm proclaiming the glory of the God Daniel served.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:5 - NLT)
Daniel was not the first to experience a sense of peace in the midst of a forced retreat. Have you prayed about the lions in your own personal den? The thing you worry about most might just make a great pillow.
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