Daniel and the Mad Man
By Derek Grier
from 'Still Standing'
I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my
palace, contented and prosperous. DANIEL 4:4
Seafarers warn their apprentices that calm seas are the most dangerous kind. The bright skies and gentle rocking motion of the waves can lull a sailor into a false sense of security. He may grow unconcerned about holding on to the rails as he walks about the boat, or clinging tightly to something stable when he is climbing the mast.
Storms at sea often occur suddenly. Their unpredictability can have deadly consequences. One moment the crew is whistling in the sunlight. The next, fifteen-foot waves are nearly dashing the ship. I think the writer of the letters to the Corinthian 33 church—the apostle Paul—had his many experiences on the high seas in mind when he wrote, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).
My name is Yeromitou. I am a native of Ethiopia. I fell in love with an African American pastor in 1993. He told me of his struggles as a pastor over the years, but he carried it so well that it really did not matter to me. We met in May and were married nine months later.
I was raised in the Orthodox Church. In my country our priests and mother church were treated with great respect and love, but in the United States it is very different.
It was not long before I realized that when you marry a pastor, you also marry his church. This was the most difficult part of my husband’s and my relationship. After two years of bringing my newborn baby into dangerous drug-infested streets and a ratinfested church building, I was relieved when the church shut down. I hurt for my husband, but all that little church did was drain our resources and energy—from the very first night we were there when two men tried to steal my purse.
Things were financially tight for us at times, but my husband always provided for us in the long run. It was not the financial issues alone that made me want my husband to do more with his life; it was also the ingratitude and constant bickering in the church.
When things were hard for us, it was natural for me to be skeptical and keep a healthy distance from our church members. But when we moved the church to Virginia, the congregation doubled the first year. It tripled the second year, and for the first time people seemed interested in helping my husband fulfill his vision.
My husband and I grew very close to our congregants. We loved them, not only in the pastoral sense, but also as friends, even as family. We felt secure. We trusted in men—and would soon pay the price for that.
As time went on, my husband started to feeluneasy and called for an all-night prayer meeting. During our gathering he preached about Korah and Moses. He spoke as if God were speaking through him, something he had not done for a long time.
Near the end of the meeting, everyone heard knocking at the front door. Three times we went to the door, but nobody was there. Then my husband quoted John the disciple’s words of Jesus, “‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock’” (Rev. 3:20). It was a little scary.
Within two weeks of our prayer meeting, people who we thought were our dearest friends had turned on us and become enemies. Without knowing it, we had become puppets, constantly trying to satisfy the desires of others. The time had come to cut the strings.
My husband took a stand against a board member over a trivial matter and finally said no to this man, and refused to change his mind. He went to lunch with the gentleman and grew even stronger. Derek
told him that if he could not accept his leadership in areas that Derek had responsibility for, then the man would have to find another pastor. Hell broke loose — a reminder of Paul’s warning: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
Daniel leaves Babylon and returns to find a very different king.
I have been out of Babylon for several months. While I was gone, the dream God gave Nebuchadnezzar really went to his head. The king commanded that the statue he saw in his dream be crafted for him. It is nine feet wide and ninety feet high and plated in pure gold. Because he left out all the other metals, it is clear that he has revised my interpretation of the dream and thinks Babylon will be an everlasting kingdom.
When he held the public dedication of the statue, he demanded that all of his officials and servants bow and worship the image. My friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused and were cast into the fiery furnace. God miraculously intervened and saved their lives, but all is still not well in the kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar has dreamed another dream. But it’s as if he still doesn’t understand. The Most High God caused me to dream his dream and then interpret it. Nebuchadnezzar even saw the Son of Man walking unharmed in the fire while he was trying to
burn my three friends. But still he calls for magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners before he calls for the servants of the Most High God. I will report the rest of the story from the king’s own annals:
I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know the spirit of the holy gods is in you...Here is my dream, interpret it for me.”
Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! . . .You, O king, saw a messenger, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live like the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
“You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” —DANIEL 4:9, 19, 23, 25
The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge God rules. Therefore, O king, please accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness to being kind to the oppressed. It may be that your prosperity will continue.
Nebuchadnezzar refused to heed God’s warning. Twelve months after I interpreted the dream, the king was walking on the roof of his palace. He had become so impressed with his hanging gardens and his great armies.
In the distance he could see his many fields of bounty. Servants catered to his every whim, and princes were forced to hang upon his every word. In his own eyes he had become more than a king; he had become a god. Caught up in what he perceived as his own greatness, he spoke aloud as if the one true God had no ears. “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” —DANIEL 4:30
While the words were still on his lips, the king who believed he was a god lost the faculties that made him even a man. From that moment on, he became like a beast and began to eat grass like cattle and roam the outdoors like any animal of the field. His body hair was soon matted like the feathers of a bird. His nails
grew so long they curled and turned brown. The king had gone mad and so had his kingdom.
It has been hard to get out of bed in the morning. My husband wakes up at night speaking in tongues. Sometimes he wakes up quoting scriptures. Other times he wakes up and just says that he is going to win, as if someone is really listening.
I know he is afraid, but he will not show it. My heart hurts in places I did not know existed. The angry board members have contacted all our leaders and accused us of things too awful to tell. They have told us they will pool their resources to destroy us. They are even prophesying these things in the name of the Lord.
The church shrinks every week. We have more than $40,000 in ministry debt that is secured by us. Our church has become too small to pay salaries. My husband is constantly bleeding from his wound, which I clean every night. It stays inflamed. We have no disability insurance.
He has started to vomit at night. I usually vomit in the mornings. Is this the life God wants for my two boys? My only comfort is that they are too young to understand what is happening.
Today I took the boys to the local library to read to them. First I stopped at the recreation center across the street to sign up for an aerobics class. There I saw the wife of a board member who was behind many of the problems that her husband was creating for Derek.
The moment she saw me, she started yelling and calling me names while following me around the building. I tried to stay calm and to talk to her. She seemed like she was out of her mind. When she approached me closely, my kids started to cry. Still, she kept hollering.
I clutched my one child in my arm, and pushed my youngest in his stroller toward the door. This woman wasn’t going to give up that easily. She followed me to the parking lot and didn’t leave until I reached the door of my car.
I was both angry and afraid. I couldn’t stop shaking. Now my children had been brought into the madness. When I got home I told my husband what had happened. We immediately called the police. They told us that there was nothing they could do.
Because there were so many church members like this, and because we didn’t know when or where we might encounter them, there were days when I did not want to leave my house. Wherever we went we had to look over our shoulders. We had become like prisoners in our own town. Soon after this, the worship leader and the woman who had followed me through the rec center started a telephone campaign against us. Then the head usher and his family and friends left the church. More and
more people stopped coming to church. Every Sunday we had to drag ourselves to service. It had started to feel more like a funeral than a celebration of life.
Over the next six months, our membership dropped from 100 people to about thirty. As a church, we were finished. It would take years for Derek to pay off the debts, but he refused to declare bankruptcy.
I asked him one night why he was torturing himself and us by staying in the ministry. I told him to quit for our children’s sake. Our people, like King Nebuchadnezzar, had started to act like animals — and I wanted out.
It was at this time that my husband began to preach with a boldness I had never seen in him before. He would say things from the pulpit like, “God would have to self-destruct and be found a liar before I would fail.” He believed that strongly in God’s promises. I didn’t understand his newfound confidence.
But like the stump in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream that was bound with iron and brass while its root remained in the ground, our church began suddenly to grow like it had never grown before. In less than six months we had added another 100 people. This time, however, it happened without “people-pleasing” on our part. Derek preached the unadulterated Word of God. That was his only intention.
At the time it seemed as if my family would be indebted for the next twenty years from the church expenses we had incurred; yet, within a year and a half from the church split all our debts were paid in full. The members of our church also began to prosper both financially and relationally. Our services had become filled with joy and excitement.
Only weeks after my husband had started to preach strongly he was scheduled to undergo surgery for a fourth time. He had suffered many years with his wound, and once again medical intervention was needed.
About seven days before the scheduled surgery, his doctor had inspected his wound, expecting within a week to be operating on it. But by the end of the week my husband had called for an emergency appointment with his doctor. Something had happened to the affected area—the wound was completely closed.
After years of chronic pain, infection and bleeding, he had been miraculously healed. After inspecting my husband, his physician cancelled the surgery. My husband and I vowed to never compromise again.
Just a few months later, in his mid-thirties, my husband turned his negative energies into work and went back to school to earn a master’s degree. By age thirty-six, he had also completed his doctorate. The church continued to grow, and my husband finally was compensated financially. That same year, we sold our townhome and still had more than $100,000 after we had given away gifts and loans.With the money we created a nest egg and purchased a beautiful new home. God is faithful.
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble. — DANIEL 4:34, 36–37
When Nebuchadnezzar looked to the heavens, God restored his sanity. If we would look again toward heaven and re-establish the kingdom of Christ as our ultimate priority, we would find that God has a way of restoring all we have lost. Just as God said to a people who seemed to be without hope, so He says to us:
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” — JOEL 2:25–26
Excerpted from Still Standing by Derek Grier, Copyright 2002. Published by
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