I can see those little monkeys set apart and huddled in the corner of their cage saying, “hear no evil, speak no evil, and say no evil”; but, how many of us would boldly do the same? Would we dare to be different from all the rest of the ones in the cage of our society? Are we willing to feed ourselves on something different from the rest of them?
To reiterate; this is about four men who dared to be different - four men who refused to eat the foods that would cause them to defile themselves and set cause to break the laws of their religious beliefs.
A few days before beginning this new journey through the book of Daniel, I was doing a little online surfing for articles and blogs on how people are coping in light of the downward spiral of the world’s economic systems.
Of course, there a great increase in number of articles and blog entries on how people are coping and saving money, of recent. It is reflecting the times in which we are living.
People are downsizing, particularly with the large population of baby-boomers entering their more senior years. Personal debt and bankruptcies are at an all-time high. Companies are moving their production facilities to cheaper lands, investments are plummeting in the stock market arenas, and people are losing jobs left and right. Oh, what troublesome times we are living in, but should we be surprised?
Aside from the inundation of articles and blogs and frugality, there are a newer substantial amount of blogs and sites for a growing number of people who are now opting out of the societal pressures to look like we have it all made. They are choosing instead, to move with a purposed directive towards a new trend called “voluntary simplicity”. They are the new army or breed of those fighting to step back from the society’s focus on self absorption and indulgence, and the overwhelming pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”.
Living the great American dream is no longer the dream.... in fact, it has become a nightmare! Society is starting to say “we have had enough”. They are opting out, and discarding all the stuff that really isn’t necessary. They are no longer interested in accumulating treasures, and storing the “stuff”.
My own sister-in-law and brother-in-law made a decision, a little over year and a half ago, to sell off their home and all of their world possessions, in order to purchase a large RV motorhome and drive off to discover North America. The timing, they felt, was right. Their kids, now in their twenties, had left home, and being only in their forties themselves, they were young enough to enjoy the concept. They also wanted to do it while they have the health to do it. They were both of tired of their jobs and the rat-race, and were ready for an all-out adventure. So in just a few short weeks, they got rid of their stuff, and were waving farewell.
Their challenge and part of the whole exploit would be to see how little they could spend. It would be more like a game, but not a regimented, unbending requirement. They wanted to do it all as simply as they could.
They chose an online trip journal, and daily post their happenings, as well as keep a running tab on their expenditures; namely fuel, food, and overnight fees. Since they have never been big spenders to start with, they spend very little, and have surprisingly, on average, spent only around a thousand a month over the past year, for their new style of living. Internet is picked up randomly here and there, on whatever signals they happen to find along the way, and cell phone pay-as-you-go is a monthly five dollar phone card they keep topped up only for roadside emergencies, should they ever need it.
Board-games, cards, strolls on the beaches, bike rides, dog-walks, and get-togethers with other fellow RV-ers are high on the list of activities. They trade books with other travellers, eat foods in season and with simplicity, pickup cheap dvd movies once in a while to watch on their laptops, they read the headlines and news videos online, and participate in free activities and touristy items as they motor along. It’s a low-key lifestyle they have become accustomed to, and that they absolutely love. So, what started out with intent to be only a couple of years long, has now become a lifestyle, and has progressed into plans for a longer timeframe.
They have chosen, and they have dared to be different.
While there is a part of many of us that may be envious of such a freedom to be able to pick and move like that. I, personally, have to say that I am too busy enjoying this season of writing and ministry. I absolutely love what I am blessed to be doing right now, and of where He has me. I love the simplicity of what we, as a family unit of our own, have chosen for this very busy season in our lives.
While we have never been too passionate about keeping up appearances, we have opted to step out of the influences and to clamp down on spending. Like others, who are choosing to rebel, we are no longer interested in spending our money or time on the unimportant things. Again, like many others, we have chosen to say "no', and to no longer conform to make the status quo - we choose to store the stuff, instead, where it counts... both personally and spiritually.
Do we, as believers in Christ, want to be strong in our conviction to not be conformed of this world?
"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20 (NIV)
It is all about setting our boundaries. We can choose to be a part of what is happening around us or to standout and be unique – to dare to be different and set apart.
We can certainly live in the world, but we don’t have to live of it.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom 12:2 (NIV)
Part of the study of His Word, is the factor of application; taking what you learn and applying it to your own life. So with an awareness of our own financial situations, and with the conviction of my faith - for the length of time that I am studying this amazing book of the Bible, I am personally committing to eat simply and at home (as much as possible), to not to spend any unnecessary money on what could be construed as frivolous items, and to live my life as simply as possible. I shall commit to purging out my belongings in order to downsize our home to its’ simplest form, and its' most mobile, move-ready basics. Not because I have to to, or because circumstances may force it in the future... but simply, because I want to.
We can learn much from the example of four men. Four men, who opted to take a stand for the simpler things - to eat with the simplicity of a diet of strictly vegetables and water, (and not the indulgent diet of a royal palace), and of whose bodies and minds ultimately reflected its intrinsic value. Four men, who chose to not be conformed to the patterns of the world around them, but to take a stand for righteous faith and respect for the Law.
Four men, who dared to be different.