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What is it about desert scenes that seem to illicit peace for some, and painful emotions for others? Sometimes, when one views a desert, they might see calm in the emptiness. Interestingly, this is because from a very real, and relative, standpoint there is little life in the vastness of a desert environment. On the other hand, it might seem like a place of tragedy for those who have risked life in the miles of waterless plains and hills of such a “sandy” or rocky place. One common attribute all can observe is thirst. Deserts are dry and lonely places where we can be parched down to our souls. To the unprepared or “un-provisioned,” they might seem like a place of torment or torture.

It seems that God allows us to suffer the desert from time to time. Here, we are humbled to better understand where we really are in the scheme of existence – life is less about us, and far more about God. We usually don’t see this as clearly in the prolific victories of our lives. Daniel 4 tells us about a man who had it all but fell far from the responsibilities of the blessings he was given. King Nebuchadnezzar’s life was filled with accomplishment and reward. He was the product of a dynasty that ruled during one of the most prolific times in the Babylonian history. Even as a prince he found himself with successful campaigns against the Assyrians, Syrians, and Egyptians. It was after capturing Judah, that Daniel would be brought back to Babylon and find himself in the service of the king. Nebuchadnezzar was at the pinnacle of his power and accomplishment when he declared that he was a legend in “his own mind.” It is here that Daniel begins to counsel the king against his own royal hubris by interpreting royal dreams. Daniel interprets the dreams of the king in chapter 4 which essentially call the king to acknowledge God, or face the wrath of the one who has blessed him. But he ignored Daniel as kings and rulers might be prone to do.

Like so many powerful people who have become leaders, the king was convinced of his own abilities and accomplishments and he failed to see God as the reason for his achievements in life. God would show the king that, when compared to God, he was far more beast than deity. God humbled Nebuchadnezzar with a desert of insanity and indignity for a number of prescribed years. Seven to be exact. In verses 34 and 35 we see that the king has realized the greatness of God. He humbled himself and recognizes God as the true power in this world.

It is a dangerous place to be in a position of power or victory. The temptation is always there to make wrong assumptions about how it came to be, or why it came to be. Be sure that power does not exist to serve the powerful, but to glorify the one who gives it. It exists to protect the weak and exercise the generosity of the strong. Those who misuse these precious blessings of power to grow their own egos and manipulate the weak will find that they will give an account to God in the greatest terms possible. Power is designed to be exercised for the good of all. May God grant all of our leaders’ wisdom. May they use that power as it is intended, or may they find comeuppance and allow the next wise leaders to establish God’s wisdom. Either way, the only real exercise of power will always be metered with an understanding of the greatness of God. I pray for our victories and our humility. May we all live our lives to His glory!