by Lance Olimb
Do you play? That is the common response I get when I tell people how much I enjoy hockey. And the response is tricky. I grew up in North Dakota. We carried sticks and skates to school in the morning, left them in our lockers and then went to the rink to play after school. A section of PE in my elementary school was dedicated to playing hockey. Real hockey. On ice. So, yes, of course I play. It is impossible not to play hockey where I lived.
However, my answer is tricky because I know what my friends and I meant when we asked that question. "Does he play?” did not just mean that the person skated or had been at the rink or knew the rules. It meant, can he play? Does he have game? Dangles, dekes, snipes, etc. In that way, no I don’t play. I was obsessed with basketball growing up so, while I won’t embarrass myself, I am not on par with the best hockey athletes I knew growing up.
The point I’m making is that words can have a simple and a deep meaning. We often know the dictionary definition of a word or concept far before we understand it in full. The experience of a concept deepens its meaning and provides us with a new way of communicating. You may have experienced this with suffering, love, joy, competition, friendship or any number of other facets of life.
I think Daniel is offering us the same experience. It has been an invitation to go deeper. If I asked you, "Is God sovereign?" you would undoubtedly say yes. What this book has caused Daniel, and Nebuchadnezzar (and hopefully you!), to wrestle with is the fullness of that phrase.
God. Is. Sovereign. What does that mean?
For Daniel it meant that God was present and active even in oppression and suffering. It meant that God was orchestrating (somehow) his rise in stature, his interpretive skills, and the protection of his friends from fire. For Nebuchadnezzar it meant that all his power, pomp, and circumstance were on a leash. God can pull the string at any moment. What does it mean for us?
I believe it is an invitation to really think. How does God’s sovereignty impact my faith and perspective? Is our suffering random? Do wars and famines and hurricanes rage autonomously? Is God frantically prepping an alternate presidential candidate, but bummed that He can’t get the person on the ballot?
Our prayer is that in this season you will get a more full understand of just how in control our God is. That we will see why Jesus insisted that we needn’t worry or be afraid. That we would all declare, with a soon to be forgotten king, that "he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'”
Is He sovereign? That is the question.