Florence Scovel Shinn counseled often that “God makes a way when there is no way“.
In our high-technology/instant gratification 21st century, this concept can be most difficult to grasp. We want what we want, and like an Amazon Prime delivery, we want it with FREE SHIPPING and RIGHT NOW – or at least in 2 days.
Seasoned spiritual seekers can recite line and verse that God makes a way when there is no way, even though we too can get caught up in what we want and when we want it. The key to success, however lies in elevating our vision and looking above our everyday perspective.
In pondering the recent statement in the Abundance Journey I am leading on Facebook, I remembered the story in the Hebrew Bible of Daniel. A quaint story taught to children, it is at the surface, a story of a man who is saved from ravenous lions by God – but it is more complicated than that as I mentioned in a recent Facebook update for the Abundance Journey group.
In the story, Daniel has made his way to becoming a member of the ruling party where he lives and has risen into a respected position. His colleagues, however are jealous and treachery is afoot, as they plot to get rid of him (good grief, I could write this story using my own work stories,…but let’s get back to Daniel).
The jealous colleagues arrange for the king to issue a decree that says anyone who worships any god except the king shall be put to death. These plotters know that Daniel worships the God of Israel, and they lay in wait to catch him.
Sure enough, Daniel provides the opportunity:
10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. 12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.”” [Daniel 6:10]
These schemers knew that Daniel would pray, so they waited and pounced. In modern language, it was a setup.
As a spiritual man, a Godly-man as the traditional religious would refer to him, Daniel would no doubt be turning to his faith in this very stressful time. And here’s where the life lesson gets real: Daniel is going to be tossed into an enclosed pit where powerful lions are purposefully kept hungry so they will devour any meat that is thrown in. Daniel was slated to be “the meat”.
I am certain that he was having conversations with God that went something like this:
“A chariot out of town would be good – NOW!”
“How about some of that sulfur and fire you sent to Sodom and Gemorrah?”
But no chariot came; no hellfire rained down from the heavens. The CRITICAL spiritual lesson in this story is that Daniel – a man of great faith – is not saved from the lions by avoiding them – he is thrown right into the middle of them.
And this is so often what we face in our own lives: being thrown right into the middle of our own lion den when we were very clear in our prayer work and meditations that we did NOT want to go anywhere near those hungry lions!
Our lion dens are financial hardships; illness and injuries; relationship challenges and more. And as spiritual people, we chant, pray, meditate, affirm and KNOW that we’re simply not going to be thrown in with those hungry lions, and yet so often we find ourselves counting our mala beads as we free fall into the pit.
Once in the pit, it is not uncommon to bemoan our circumstances, doubt our faith, rail against God and any spiritual teachers who led us down this primrose path, and yet; it was from the midst of the hungry lions that Daniel’s important lesson emerged.
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared[b] to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel.
This verbiage in particular signifies that Daniel is stuck in this situation. There’s a large stone placed in front of the only exit point, and sealed with the king’s signet.
The stone represents obstacles in life that seem to prevent us from moving forward and the king’s signet represents authority. This authority may be physical laws, governmental rules or “the way it’s always done“.
And if I was in the lion’s den, I would probably (initially) be asking God to move that stone because I would be seeing things from a ground-level perspective. I would see the stone as the only way out. After all, the chariot and the hellfire didn’t arrive – clearly I’m on my own! I would be desperate to have that stone moved; but herein lies the challenge for spiritual people: the HOW is always up to God.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, …”
How was Daniel saved from the hungry lions?
Not from a Hollywood-style, last minute extraction; not from an earthquake that moved the stone and not in any way that any of us would likely consider on our freefall into the den of lions.
Daniel was saved when God sent an Angel who shut the lions’ mouths so that they could not harm him. Daniel spent the night in the midst of those hungry lions and yet emerged unharmed.
How often do we look around at the “lions” in our lives, certain that they not only can, but will, devour us? Our financial situations, our relationship challenges, our work woes, our health concerns: all of these are the “lions” we find ourselves in the midst of, despite our ardent pleas and prayers. But we would be wise to learn Daniel’s lesson: the lesson of a higher perspective.
At the physical, human level we often see herculean solutions like moving that stone, or the intervention of some catastrophic event as the ONLY conceivable way to overcome our lions. And yet, the story of Daniel teaches us that from the midst of the worst-case-scenario, God can intercede and “shut the lions’ mouths” so they cannot hurt us.
Angels represent the agents of God/Good here on earth, and they take many forms, so it’s important not to get caught up in waiting for the winged, luminescent creatures of renaissance literature to show up in our times of need. Sometimes they look like anything BUT an Angel, and yet they do the same sacred work.
The story of Daniel gives us comfort in the knowing that no matter what we are facing, no matter how bad it looks; when we’re tempted to give up because we can’t see how that “stone” can be moved – our way out of the crisis lies beyond our comprehension and control. The answers to our most pressing problems come to us from a perspective we cannot always see or imagine.
God indeed makes a way when there is no way; when the authorities we see all around us have rolled a giant stone in front of the only exit, when hungry lions are circling around us. We are provided, always and in all ways – we just need to remember.
(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path