Name a movie that, if it is on television while you are surfing the channels, will stop you dead in your tracks. I have one, and when I've said this in groups, it tends to be one that several people will say, "Oh yeah, that's one of my top movies." The Dead in Your Tracks list for me is topped by "The Shawshank Redemption," from Stephen King's book with the same name.
Andy Dufresne (du-frayne) is a man wrongfully arrested, tried, and finally imprisoned for the crime of murdering his wife. This imprisonment is what turn's your stomach because he's innocent, and the story weaves of his survival in prison which in the end is thriving. He used his intelligence to survive, play the system, make a set of friends who loved him as a brother, and then to escape to freedom and report the graft and corruption that occurs within Shawshank, the name of the prison.
Yes, I stop dead in my tracks. I don't know why. The story is gripping and the movie doesn't feel contrived. It was the first to use Morgan Freeman as the narrator (and one of the stars) which gives it a narrative overview, so we see, with Freeman, the story from 30,000 feet. In the end, you feel a tremendous amount of pity for the wrongful imprisonment and yet liberation at what Dufresne accomplished for his friends in prison. A library, a frame of mind, inspiration, and hope. He even helps one earn his diploma which has a twist of fate before it's over. Andy has courage as far as I see it, and the story shows his courage unfold in prison.
Malcolm Gladwell writes of courage in "David and Goliath," "Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you've been through the tough times, and you discover they aren't so tough after all."
Scriptural courage? Let's turn to Daniel who is part of God's plan in a twist of fate much like Andy Dufresne. A righteous man who is captured by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, when he defeats Judah and brings to his court the "youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding, learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace and to teach them...." Daniel is one of them. The king renames his new servants and gives them a diet that, for all of us, is a king's meal. Yet Daniel (and Israel) in captivity, "resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself." (Daniel 1:4 and 8)
Daniel stood his ground in the king's presence by asking to remain faithful to the strict Jewish diet, and more importantly, to follow that diet to honor God. There is more to learn from Daniel other than diet. How do we exhibit courage? How do we serve God when it may not be the popular thing or even perhaps mandated? Pray that God give us the same courage he gave Daniel when we need to make a stand and the wisdom to know when that is needed.
Hope Men's Ministry
(I believe Daniel is the source of Rick Warren's "Daniel Plan" which I've not read so I'm not intentionally copying from Warren if you have read it and note similarities. Daniel has been covered before by Hope Men's Ministry and was part of a study conducted by then-Pastor Radkey of Hope referred to as "Gun's Up" for a retreat in 2010. This does not borrow from that as well.)