Daily Devotion 28 May 2021
Daniel 5:11-12 ‘An Excellent Spirit Within’
[The Queen said to King Belshazzar] 11 There is a man in your kingdom who is endowed with a spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father he was found to have enlightenment, understanding, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.’
If you’re like me, you’ve probably taken part in quite a number of quizzes during the past couple of months. I’ve found setting them quite enjoyable too – especially reading about all the human achievements scattered through history. But it strikes me that most of the progress made in recent times has been concerned with extending our physical and mental faculties, rather than our spiritual. So, for example, the whole apparatus of communication is effectively an ‘extension of the human’, as it were. Cars enable us, in effect, to travel farther and faster; the radio extends our voices and enables us to ‘shout’ into every home in the country; telescopes and microscopes and spectacles help us to see farther – and so on. But whereas these inventions and technological developments extend our sight, they do not necessarily help our insight. In other words, they’re extensions of our physical, not spiritual selves.
This period of ‘lock-down’ can be an opportunity for us to become more aware of God’s Spirit, not just around us, but within. It’s the Queen at Belshazzar’s Feast who recognizes that there is an inner Spirit within Daniel equipping him for good. The radical theologian Austin Farrar wrote that ‘The Gift of the Holy Spirit closes the last gap between the life of God and ours…When we allow the love of God to move in us, we can no longer distinguish ours and his; he becomes us, he lives us. It is the first-fruits of the Spirit.’
I love the true story of how the composer Rossini was once presented with a beautiful watch by King Charles X. He was very proud of this watch because it was a royal gift. Years after receiving it, he showed it to a friend, who examined it and said that Rossini didn’t realise its true value. Rossini denied it, but his friend touched a tiny spring on the side of the watch, and an inner case deep inside flew open. Inside the hidden case was a lovely miniature portrait of Rossini himself. The composer hadn’t known it was there! May God touch that inner spring for us, and make us open to perceive, and to receive, his Spirit.
‘Spirit of God, unseen as the wind, gentle as is the dove;
teach us the truth and help us believe, sow us the Saviour’s love.’
(Margaret Old (1932-2001))
God of relationship, draw us nearer to each other;
God of life, give us such faith and love, that we may grow ever more alive in you,
our living Head. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.
Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Barrie Tabraham.
Hymn words: © Scripture Union, 207-209 Queensway, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. MK2 2EB Image freely available online.
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