Daniel, age 16, and his sister, Sarah, age 10, sat on the first bench in the court room. This was the day they had both dreaded and eagerly anticipated. Today they would be adopted. It had been more than two months since that horrific day when both parents had been killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck. Both children had been left at a friend’s house while their parents shopped for Christmas presents. Their parents never returned leaving them without parents, grandparents or any close relatives. They were truly alone in the world.
Sarah had been quickly placed with a family that had a girl close to her age. She was excited about the prospect of having a sister for the first time but Daniel, because of his age, had been harder to place. Finally, a childless, professional couple had come forward. They had agreed to adopt him because he was a good student and a football player.
Sarah and Daniel quickly embraced and promised to write, then tearfully parted. As they drove toward Daniel’s new home, his new parents laid out their expectations: “We expect you to keep your grades up. We expect you to excel in athletics no matter what it takes, get high ACT scores, etc. etc. We are willing to keep you until you are ready for college but we are not going to devote any of the family finances toward your college education. That education, you must get through academic and athletic scholarships and student loans. We expect you to be a credit to the family name. We are both lawyers with lucrative practices.”
“What about God,” Daniel asked. Do you folks believe in God? Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?”
Daniel’s mother had answered after an awkward pause. “You may keep your beliefs as long as they do not interfere with your performance.”
The next few months found Daniel doing well in his new school although he was nowhere near the top of his class. His new father had suggested that he find a copy of last year’s ACT test so that he could study before taking it. Daniel’s real struggle was in football. He was not nearly as big or as strong as some of his teammates so he seldom got to play on the junior varsity team.
One day his dad came to him with steroids that he had gotten from a physician. He insisted that Daniel begin to take these to improve his strength. Daniel knew that this was wrong. “Give me another month. If I don’t get on the first string, I will give them a try.”
Later Daniel’s new mom joined his dad in front of the TV. “Daniel is up in his room listening to that Christian music again. He is probably praying in there. I heard him tell his new friend that he was praying that he would get to play in the next game. Do you think we should have a talk with him. This religion stuff could cause him to be less competitive and miss his chance. We have learned when you see an opportunity you have to go for it regardless of others who may be in your way.”
“No. Let him alone for a little while. He will soon see that that religion stuff doesn’t work. It just isn’t practical in real life.”
His new parents were right about one thing. Daniel was praying, and he was not only asking God for help with his classes and sports. He was praying for his new parents: “Show them the truth, Lord!”
It was at the Friday night game two weeks later that the breakthrough came for Daniel. The team’s kicker twisted his ankle on the first field goal attempt. Daniel was put in the game as his substitute for the extra point conversion after a touchdown. He prayed as was his custom as he walked on the field. His kick went straight between the goal posts! His next two attempts to score points for the team were also successful. When the game was over, his team had won by five points (one field goal and two extra point conversions after touchdowns, the points that Daniel had made for the team.) The team carried Daniel off the field.
When Daniel showed up at home after the game his mom met him at the door with a letter addressed to Daniel that she had opened reporting an ACT score in the 90th percentile! His mom said, “Daniel, Dad and I have been thinking that we would like to go to church as a family. Do you know a good church that we could attend?”
In all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined [Daniel] he found [him] ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm. Thus, Daniel continued [in the king’s service]. Daniel 1:20,21