June 19, 2019
A Cut Above the Rest

by Judy Mzungu

Defeated. Beaten. Conquered. You didn’t just lose everything you had – you also lost your identity. Every ‘external’ evidence of the Hand of God upon your life is stripped of you. You are down to nothing.

Daniel 1:2 And the Lord delivered Jehoaiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.

What’s interesting about life, is that even though you are stripped, there’s something they can’t quite take away from you. There’s something different about you. Something that will cause you to be picked out.

Daniel 1:4 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude to every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace

The only thing is their definition of you is warped – it’s limited. Just as limited as we are when we set external parameters – 36-24-36; tall, dark, handsome and financially stable; young, dynamic, energetic (MBA Preferred) – that never allow us the privilege of unpacking hidden treasures of potential, capability and greatness around us.

You see, they can’t limit you to education, you have God-given wisdom; they can’t limit you to intelligent, you are also street-smart; they can’t limit you to looks, you’re timeless; they can’t limit you to performance, you also have integrity; they can’t limit you to a system, you are adaptable… you keep evolving.

And then, in spite of your uniqueness, they will try to teach you their system, to fit you into a box, to turn you into something you are not – either because of a superiority complex (they feel they are better than you), or because of an inferiority complex (they can’t stand anything different).

Daniel 1:4 (b) He was to teach them the language and the literature of the Babylonians.

It’s not enough to mess with your mind. To make you feel less. To take away your confidence. The world will attempt to define your lifestyle. And use that as a basis “to allow you into the circle”.

Daniel 1:5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

There comes a time in life when you have been through the pits of scarcity, when you have been through seasons of pain and rejection – when you find the meaning of life – and you no longer get excited by moments of gratification. You come to a place of a deep understanding of who you are and what you carry, you understand your true value – no one can place a price on you.

Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile him this way.

The thing about a system that defines us by our externals, is that it will, because of its limited perspective tend to cap our outcome by its limited parameters. In the world of the Babylonians, royal food and wine meant strength and vitality.

Daniel 1:10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age?

Daniel knew and was confident, that what kept them was not external – it could not be determined by what they ate. He knew his core. He understood his values. He stood by what he believed in.

Daniel 1:12-13 Please test your servants for ten days. Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”

As you journey through life, trying to find your Purpose, you will be tested on your integrity, your values, your core. Your ability to stand true is what will separate you from the Crowd.

Daniel and his friends, though exposed to the Babylonian culture remained true to their God. They might have taken away ‘articles from the temple of God’ but they had a deeply in-grained faith that remained unshaken. They still communed with God even through their dark moments, in the place of the unknown – and became recipients of His wisdom and understanding.

Daniel 1:17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

The challenge of operating in a world that has a limited perspective is that many times we will be overlooked, many times we will be fighting a system that has a rigid perspective – because it can only see life and see us through the lens of ticking boxes.

Our thing then must be to ‘qualify to serve in the king’s palace’ because we are equipped, well-able to perform the task – and no, while we are not 36-24-36; tall, dark, handsome and financially stable; young, dynamic and energetic with an MBA – we are confident that the totality of what we offer is so much more.

We bring Knowledge, Integrity, Wisdom, Honor and Excellence to the table. That’s priceless.

In a world that will attempt to define you by its standard, you must set your own standard. And be willing to pay the price for it. Bon Voyage


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