The Lion's Den

The is a certain irony in my presenting a paper describing an experience in a Lion's Den. Before I was saved I joined a 'Christian debating forum' where I could argue with the things I disagreed. During that time I was referred to as a 'Lion in a den of Daniels'.

The same expression has been used of me even quite recently.

To be perfectly frank it is very difficult to recall a situation where antagonists have outnumbered me. On a physical level I must attest to the Lord's goodness, I am not built for physical strength but I have never been in a situation, at least since being saved, where I would have needed to deploy strength.

On a mental level I am difficult to outnumber, I once went solo to a very hostile client and faced a panel, my boss's only response was 'David had an unfair advantage, there were only five of them!'

There have been a few occasions when I have had to face a group of angry elders but that was certainly of my doing, I was telling them that they were in error and they didn't like it.

Although it doesn't really fit the situation of facing external danger, and there are those who would argue it is also my fault; I think the incident that is closest to a Lions Den pertains to an issue I had with my health four years ago.

I had just turned 30, my second son was 4 months old, my preaching schedule was hectic, work was progressing at a frantic pace and I had to put in 18-hour days to keep up. That is exactly how I like things.

The only slight blot on the horizon was that the headaches were getting worse. I've always been cerebral and much as an athlete expects sore calves I expected a sore head. But this was different. I would wake up an hour early and the pain was so intense I was dizzy. Sometimes I had to vomit to ease the tension. Doubling my normal painkiller dose didn't even touch the problem.

Seeing me in distress on one occasion the lady doing a medical check on my son suggested I go to a chiropractor. I've never been a great fan of the medical profession, at that point I hadn't been near a doctor in 10 years, but I was assured that chiropractors were different so I went to see her.

As a 'new' patient with almost no verifiable medical history she gave me the once over. Checked weight, height, blood pressure, and heart beat etcetera.

"Blood pressure a bit up Mr Bayliss, is that normal?"

"Probably -- don't worry about it, just fix the headaches."

The sessions continued, the headaches abated considerably, but she was getting agitated.

"I'm sorry, but I cannot ethically go on treating you until your doctor looks at your blood pressure"

"I don't have a doctor"

"Then I think you need to find yourself one - today".

I was unimpressed by this but I wanted her to go on treating the headaches so I figured I'd go to the doctor. The normal waiting period is a couple of weeks; when my wife told them my last measured BP they told me to come straight down.

The doctor took a similar set of measurements and then started listing off the different treatments I could have and the side effects they would produce. None of the side effects sounded particularly pleasant. We were mid-way through November and work was going to be picking up pace until at least January. I decided that I'd done what the chiropractor asked, she was now off of the hook, but I wasn't going to play the medication game.

"Ok, most of these drugs sound a little draconian, I really am too busy to deal with this now, I'll come back after Christmas."

"Mr Bayliss, if we don't get this blood pressure sorted out then you are probably not going to make it to Christmas."

I don't know if you have ever had a bucket of ice-cold water thrown over you, I haven't, but I suspect the effect is very similar. I've always been mentally tough. "That's okay, I'll cope" is almost a mantra. Here was a situation where however tough my mind, perhaps because of my tough mind, my body was in danger of giving out.

I accepted one of the medications and went for a long, long walk. With my measured blood pressure I had about a 20% chance of surviving 5 years. I had, and have, no fear of death. I don't like pain but I believed that with God's help I would be able to deal with it.

What I really couldn't face was the thought of leaving my two young children without a father. I remembered the prayer of Abraham when the issue of destroying Sodom arose. Although I don't recommend it in general I decided it was time to try a little negotiating.

I reasoned that for someone so young to be in this position God must have a purpose. But I also hoped that that purpose could be fulfilled and still give me some time with my sons, so I focused my prayer upon a very simple request. I wanted to live long enough to tell my children I loved them and have them understand the words. In other words I needed a couple of years.

That was four and half years ago, the medication has helped, my lifestyle and my attitude have changed. In some ways, living with an expectation of death is a great way to remember how reliant you are upon God.

To this day, I don't actually know what will happen. The doctors are far less concerned than they were. We have actually had a third child; the older two know very well that daddy loves them.

In some ways the story fits, Daniel was totally dependant upon God, so am I. Daniel's escape was clearly miraculous, mine can be put down to science. Or can it? Should we not really view every provision of God in every area of our life with the same thankfulness and awe that we view the ones we remember?


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