Walking With Lions
About a month ago, I rescued Jack Sparrow. Jack Sparrow is a common house sparrow that had fallen from his nest. I was immediately drawn to the little creature. At first, I was sure he would not survive, but death was the last thing on Jack’s little mind. After a few days of warmth, food and, yes, prayer, Jack began to move around and chirp. Each time I went to check on him, I’d find his little beak wide open, ready for a meal.
Today, Jack Sparrow a formerly broken bird with a death sentence, has grown into an adolescent sparrow who enjoys all things that sparrows enjoy. Jack still relies on me for most of his meals. His little beak continues to eagerly wait for me to fill it with delicious tidbits from our kitchen. Sometimes he will hop onto my lap, wings flapping, protesting loudly that the food service is taking too long.
Sadly, Jack has not yet been able to fly. He was injured in his fall from the nest, his tail and wings are visibly “crooked.” I hope, because he has recovered so much already, that as he grows that perhaps he will find the strength to fly. If not, Jack has a forever home with us.
This little creature’s fight for life has taught me more about tenacity than I could have imagined. I’m not a vet nor do I have any avian medical training but I’m sure that Jack was in pain after his fall. I’m sure that had I fallen from such a height that I would have begged for pain killers. Jack didn’t have the luxury of pain killers. But he wanted to survive.
Pulled Out From Under You
Have you ever felt that the nest has been pulled out from under you? That the fall from the nest has caused too much damage to recover from? Like Jack, it is possible for us to find the spark to survive and even thrive when we fall.
Daniel, a Jewish captive in Babylon, certainly wasn’t prepared for what his fall from his home country would bring him. Captives, generally speaking, weren’t considered to be of the upper echelon of society. When a nation was taken captive in those times, they were doomed to lives of slavery.
An Excellent Spirit
But there was something about Daniel that drew the attention of his captors.
“Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.”Daniel 6:3 NKJ
Falling More Than Once
Daniel was known to have an “excellent spirit” that marked him over those serving around him. He was known to interpret dreams and live authentically among those who were sworn enemies of his nation of origin. As it often goes, there were those who became jealous of Daniel’s rise in the king’s estimation. It’s likely they feared for their own positions and this was the reason they plotted a fall for Daniel.
Daniel first fell from his nest when he was taken captive from his home country. This first fall, as devastating as it was, resulted in his being a key servant to the king. His second fall came as those who were jealous of his proximity to the king, had him thrown into a lions’ den. This happened to him because he wanted to live authentically for God. He wasn’t interested in hypocritical living. If Daniel was guilty of anything, he was guilty for living a life of integrity.
Imagine how Daniel must have felt when he was lowered into the lions’ den. The pictures we are shown in our Sunday School classes only show one side of the story: lions standing peacefully around Daniel. I wonder if, at first, those lions roared, if those lions licked their chops or if they paced from one side of the den to the other.
Walking With Lions
Instead of dying that day, Daniel walked with lions.
At the onset of his fall into the den, I can see in my mind’s eye, Daniel struggling to maintain his composure. His heart may have skipped a beat or two while he prayed for a miracle. We don’t know how the scene unfolded but I’m sure Daniel had his moments of fear as he waited for God to come through.
And come through He did!
When it became apparent that Daniel had walked with the lions, God justified him and made an open spectacle of those who accused him. Once he was taken up from the den, his accusers were lowered into it. The lions must have been stirred up because the Bible tells us that they were ripped apart “before they ever came to the bottom of the den” (see Daniel 6:24).
Surviving And Thriving In Babylon
God has a way of taking our falls into captivity and turning them into a place where we can thrive. Daniel did, in fact, thrive in his captive country. At the time Babylon was a pagan nation; everything practiced in Babylon ran cross-grain to Daniel’s culture and faith. But somehow, he went beyond surviving. He thrived. His thriving resulted from his falling. Falling into captivity and then falling into a lions’ den is where he learned to thrive in Babylon.
Daniel was rescued because “he believed in his God” (see Daniel 6:23). His rescue wasn’t a result of his eloquence or good looks. He just believed God and that belief marked him as “excellent.” It is this excellence that can see us through our times in Babylon.
As we recover from our falls from the nest, and we surely will fall, we can go beyond being broken like Jack Sparrow. Those scars are simply our marks of excellence that will set us apart and ultimately lead us to thriving in Babylon.
A little sparrow, whose lifespan is about three years, with a desperate need to survive worked his way into my heart.
He is thriving.
So can we.