Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the Outside Looking In

   "Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom." -Daniel 5:29

For my last blog post before I leave for my mission trip to Slovakia, I wanted to write Part II of Daniel because as I was running this morning, something came to my mind...

What Matters Most

When my son Nathan was little, I would take him to the park in the summer evenings as the sun went down. He would play in the sand with his toys as I would sit nearby on a bench reading a magazine or book. It was a nice time to get out of the house and relax before his dad came home from work and we all sat down for dinner.

One evening as he played, I looked over and saw a family was setting up for a special event in the park. Many of the people were dressed up and carrying gifts. 

Then I saw a group of teenage boys walking toward the play area where I sat. These young men were dressed up to the nines! They wore silk shirts and dress slacks that were creased with shiny black shoes. Some had gold chains around their necks. Their hair was nicely groomed. I was impressed to see a group of teen boys so dressed up for a special event. They walked by me and then stood near Nathan and some other little boys playing in the sand a few feet away. 

Then, it happened. 

I sat in horror as these teens spoke using the "F" word as a noun, verb, and adjective just a few feet away from these little kids! What the heck?

Well, being a mom, I put my magazine down and waved these young men over. Of course, they were pleased to see a thirty-something year old female waving to them. I guess they thought I was interested in them

Boy were they in for a surprise.

I met them half way and talked to them. I told them about how impressed I was with how nicely they were dressed. They beamed and one even said, "Darn right!" as he adjusted his collar. I told them I was impressed with their clothes and hair and jewelry. They smiled and nodded. 

"But then you opened your mouths, " I said. "And I heard you saying the "F" word just a few feet away from my son and all these other little kids."

Their smiles disappeared. 

"Come on guys," I said. "You know better than that. What could you be thinking?"

They looked down at the sidewalk.

"Please watch your language near these little kids, okay?" I went back to my bench. 

Looking back, I wish I had told them that being "cool" is more than what you look like on the outside. It's what's on the inside that matters. Being "cool" means you are aware of what's around you...and you care. It's more than nice clothes, hair, or jewelry. 

Being "cool" means confidence, yes, but it also means having a brain between your ears and using it.

As I watched the teen boys walk away, I doubt very much they stopped using the "F" word. But I hope to this day (14 years later...) that they remember some woman telling them to watch their language around little kids.

Dare to Be Like Daniel...Again

I thought of Daniel again on my morning run. He was clothed in purple with gold chains around his neck. I'm sure he looked "cool". But Daniel was wise for his age. His example to us is so sure, so exemplary, so commendable that it is no wonder thousands of years later we study him in the Bible.

Daniel made such an outward and inward impression on the pagan kings of his time that these men feared his God. They feared and respected Daniel. 

As a result, God's people were spared.

I often think about those young men I saw that summer evening in the park all those years ago. So young, so handsome, so mistaken.

I hope they learned something that night. I hope my words made them stop and think before they spoke. If not, that's okay. I learned something that night. I learned that we see what's on the outside, but we need to look deeper into what's on the inside. 

Your turn: What does being "cool" mean to you? Do you tend to go only by what a person looks like on the outside? Or do you wait until that person speaks before you make up your mind? What would people say about you?



  1. I think we're all taken in by appearances initially. But who a person is is what will stand the test of time. That's what people will remember. Not how someone looked, but how they acted.

    Have such a great time on your trip! I know the Lord is going to use you mightily. :)

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Have a great time on your trip too!! Come back refreshed and ready to write. We'll have to get together in July to catch up!

  2. It is way too easy to judge by appearance initially...I try not to and I kick myself when I realize that's exactly what I've done. It's something I can keep working at!

    1. Me too Melissa! Something we all can work on.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi, Ruth! I love this reflection. Sometimes I'm lead astray by appearance when someone looks cool - and when they don't. I've found that if I judge too quickly I'm in for a surprise. This has become even more apparent now that I'm thirteen years out of high school. I had formed so many opinions of my former classmates - both good and bad - and now when we meet or reconnect as adults I am pleasantly surprised by a lot of them and I'm reminded again that I shouldn't form judgements.

    Have fun on your missions trip! I will add you to my prayer list.

    1. Good point Gabrielle! It can be hard to let go of those old opinions. I tend to do the same thing.

      Thank you for your prayers. We will need them! Can't wait to blog about it.

      Blessings to you!