Friends in Strange Places
“It’s come to my attention that some of you students have reacted strongly to our presentation against the historicity and Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.” Remember the Longhorn student I mentioned whose faith was tested in his honors class at the University of Texas? A few days later in class his professor went on, “My purpose is not to destroy your faith, but to teach you to think critically, and in the end, to deepen your faith. So if you’re struggling, come and talk to me, and I’ll point you to resources that can help you.”
Underneath the UT Tower struggling with his faith, our student had come to a decision. He didn’t have all the intellectual answers to the questions raised by his professor, but he knew the reality of Jesus he was experiencing. He would stay with Jesus. He did, however, go to see his professor
He could have left the secular university, argued that the entire place was antagonistic to the Bible and to Christianity, and gone to a school where everyone had the same point of view. As we’ve learned right at the beginning of Daniel’s story, this is not the option that God wants all of his children to take. The amazing thing about living out in the bigger world, sometimes you find friends in strange places.
“Now God had given Daniel a devoted and compassionate relationship with the head official overseeing the Judean captives. He said to Daniel, ‘I’m afraid of my lord, the king, who has given you his apportioned food and drink. Why should he see your faces thinner than the rest of the young men your age? The king will have my head!’
Then Daniel said to the guard who the chief official had placed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants ten days. Give us food grown from seeds and water to drink. Then let us appear before you, and you can see how we look compared to the young men eating the king’s diet. Then treat us according to what you see.’
He listened to them, followed what they had suggested, and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the provisions provided by the king. So the guard took away the food and wine they were to drink from the king and gave them food generated from seeds.” Daniel 1:9-16
Who would expect Nebuchadnezzar’s chief official placed over the Judean princes to become a dependable, compassionate friend who genuinely cared about Daniel? We need to be on the alert for friends the Lord might give us in unexpected places, and be careful not to make enemies when there are wiser alternatives. This episode makes it clear that Daniel put himself in the place of his Babylonian friend and overseer. He saw the dilemma and came up with a reasonable solution. As a result he got to eat his kosher diet in obedience to Mosaic Law, and his Babylonian friend got four healthy, strapping, young people he could brag about when the kings called them in for a personal appearance.
And when the UT student went to see his professor, the prof suggested he read C.S. Lewis, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky—world class writers who agreed with his student about faith in Jesus.
LORD, raise up more young people like Daniel and his three friends who instead of withdrawing from culture, invade it with your wisdom and grace. Help me be alert to the friends you want me to discover in strange places.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!