Most of us enjoy stories of the underdog, who with all the odds stacked against him, rises to the occasion. We may remember the stories of “ Rocky”, the “Hoosiers” basketball team, the Israelites…. they were all losing badly, with little hope of victory…. but they were ultimately victorious.
In college our fraternity had a candidate for “Campus King”. We were a big underdog to a larger fraternity that usually won; they were the “evil empire” and we were the “smaller rebellion” (remember Starwars ???) We had put everything we had into the campaign and the winner was ready to be announced…. can you feel the tension and excitement?
Well, todays reading from Daniel sets up a story of the underdog facing more than losing face and prestige, or a trivial campus contest… his very life is at stake. In the face of overwhelming odds, Daniel has the courage and boldness for the ages. When asked to deny his God or be thrown into the white hot furnace, Daniel says, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18) Wow !!! Daniel put his money where his mouth was… putting all he had, including his life in the hands of the Lord… what incredible faith. And we know how it turned out.
Our lives have not had dramatic moments like Daniel, but in truth they may in the future. At some point we will need to put our money where our mouth is … declaring our allegiance to the Lord. “Yes, I have decided to follow Jesus. Yes, Jesus is my Lord!” We may need to do this when the odds are stacked against us and the consequence of our decision may bring peril to us… it will cost us something, maybe even our lives. If we trust in the Lord, he will give us the grace and courage to stand firm. He will not abandon us.
Back to St. Louis U. and the Campus King….. the results were announced and I jumped so high when our name was announced…I couldn’t believe we had won. Today that seems pretty silly, but at the time it was something. Well, when we’re awaiting judgement at the end of our days and we hear the verdict “well done good and faithful servant, we will jump even higher. And we’ll be more than the “Campus King”. We’ll be with the King of Kings.