Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Writing on the Wall

"Daniel Interprets the Writing on the Wall"
Gustave Doré, 1865
People use the phrase "the writing is on the wall" a lot.  It's an ominous assessment; that even though things may seem to be great, there are circumstances coming together that promise to bring chaos, disaster, failure.  

Most people today don't even know where this phrase comes from, but the interpretation is spot on. And I've chosen it as my daily prayer inspiration for the new year.  


Yes, you heard right. The ancient curse written on the wall - Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin - is the core of my daily prayer time. 

Not because I'm self-loathing. Not because things are shaping up badly. But because that writing on the wall reveals the heart of who I do and do not want to be. Especially in a year that will be chock full of milestones for me and my family.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king [Belshazzar] watched the hand as it wrote.  His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
"[Y]ou did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.  Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN  Here is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.  Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.  Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”  That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.
Daniel 5:5-6, 23-28,30 ESV
So here is how I'm turning that ancient curse into a blessing through daily prayer.

Mene: Lord, help me to remember that you hold my days in your Hand, so I can trust you with all of them.
Mene: Lord, help me to number my hours well today, to use my time on this day to bless others and to honor You.
Tekel: Thank you, Lord, that I am not found wanting, even when I don't measure up, because I am found righteous in Jesus the Messiah.
Peres: Lord, please bring unity rather than division, and please work unity through me - in my family, in my friendships, in my workplace, in my community.

The writing on the wall may have spelled the end for Belshazzar, but it is bringing intentionality and life to me.